Embattled Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought to take the fight to the opposition camp by writing to the PM, urging him to institute a comprehensive inquiry into the gold smuggling through diplomatic bag at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.
In his letter, the CM said the seizure was serious and has serious repercussions to the country’s economy itself. As such, it demands inquiries at all levels to unearth the origin and destination of the contraband.
Amid mounting attack by the opposition parties, Vijayan has claimed complete lack of knowledge about the woman and her contractual appointment. The incident claimed its first casualty when M Sivasankaran, the CM’s principal secretary and the IT secretary, was relieved of his positions in the wake of a concerted attack by the opposition Congress and BJP for the alleged involvement of his trusted aide with the accused woman.
Vijayan’s counter-offensive came even as the opposition demanded his resignation for the alleged involvement of his office in the gold smuggling. Customs investigations have revealed at least on 10 occasions, gold was smuggled through the diplomatic channel.
The CM’s position appeared to be increasingly vulnerable as more details of the woman’s dealings emerged throughout the day. Opposition leaders allege she was a prominent dealmaker and enjoyed clout in the state secretariat.
Her alleged connections include Sreeramakrishnan, the state assembly speaker, who was seen in a video attending the inauguration of a local business on the invitation of the dubious woman. It now appears the owner of the business was a partner in the gold smuggling racket and reports suggest he may be a banami of the woman. The opposition has accused the CM of trying to find scapegoats so the blame is diverted away from his office, but insist he won’t succeed.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage is being viewed seriously with utmost attention by the Centre and assured of strict action against the guilty.