Thiruvananthapuram: Customs hurled a virtual bomb ahead of the assembly elections, informing the Kerala High Court that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Speaker Sreeramakrishnan and three cabinet ministers were directly involved in smuggling out dollar with the help of the UAE consul general.
The claim is based on the secret deposition in the court by gold smuggling kingpin Swapna Suresh, who disclosed that she acted as the interpreter between the chief minister as well as the Speaker and consul general as she knew Arabic and the people on either side did not understand each other’s language.
Swapna claimed that commissions paid in connection with various projects of the state government were channelised through the route. She further disclosed that M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of the chief minister, was the link between the UAE consulate and the politicians.
The special court for economic offences, which heard the deposition in December last year, had expressed shock over the revelations and observed that big sharks were involved in the clandestine operations and that all of these brought to light.
But since then, although there were reports that the Speaker would be summoned and some of the top functionaries of the CM’s office were even called for questioning, the investigations got into a limbo, prompting opposition UDF to allege that the dragging of feet by the central agencies was due to a secret understanding between the CPI-M and the BJP.
Apparently, lending credence to such suspicions was the fact that the CBI has been asking for postponement of the Lavalin case in which chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is an accused. The case was postponed as many as 21 times without being taken up for hearing on one pretext or the other by the CBI.
The Customs disclosures come even as Pinarayi Vijayan and finance minister Thomas Isaac challenged Enforcement Directorate filing a case against the controversial state government funding agency KIIFB for violation of foreign exchange regulations.
Both of them had asserted that, unlike the governments in north India led by Congressmen, the LDF government of Kerala would not be cowed down by ED’s threats and turned up the heat against the central agencies.
The Customs revelations have to been seen in the context of such defiance. The new revelations have created a new crisis for the CPI-M and the ruling LDF, which are worried that the Customs may question Pinarayi Vijayan and Speaker Sreeramakrishnan before the crucial assembly elections.
That would give the opposition much more than what it had bargained for in terms of election propaganda. Both leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala and state BJP chief K Surendran have demanded immediate resignation of the chief minister who has indulged in anti-national activities.
The CPI-M is planning to organise protests in front of Customs offices in the state, but it is doubtful if the action is good enough to neutralise the credibility loss of both Pinarayi Vijayan and his government caused by the shocking revelations.