Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

The Kerala government seems to be headed for more trouble over its botched deal with the UAE charity Red Crescent for the construction of apartments for the homeless.

Reportedly the Centre is planning to seek an explanation from the state government regarding how it entered into a deal of sorts with an organisation that is not allowed to operate in this country before going ahead with any action.

The central government has come to the conclusion that Red Crescent is not an independent charity organisation, but an outfit that is part of the UAE government, responsible for the emirate’s official interventions in cases of natural calamities and other emergencies in friendly countries.

It is headed by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of UAE and Father of the Nation, and is a government entity.

As such any state government or its agency entering into a deal with a government entity of another country has to first seek the approval of the central government. But the deal for the construction of the apartment complex between Life Mission, the state government agency responsible for building houses for the poor, and the Red Crescent was signed without the knowledge of the central government.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had claimed at one of his media briefings that as per his understanding, there was no need for prior approval as Red Crescent was a charity organisation and not a government entity.

But since it has now been revealed that Red Crescent is part of the UAE government, it would mean that the state government has no mandate to enter into a deal with it, unless approved by the Centre. This would be a gross violation of the central guidelines.

It is not known yet as to what would be the Centre’s next course of action or what the fate of the project will be. Incidentally the project is already mired in controversy for the fact that up to 25% of the total financial package was paid in commission.

Swapna Suresh, one of the key suspects in the gold smuggling case, has claimed during investigations by the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate that she had received over Rs 1 crore as her share of the commission.

Both NIA and ED are continuing their investigations, which are now expected to include the chief minister’s office as M Sivasankar, the CM’s former principal secretary, is supposed to be a key actor in the deal.

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