Thiruvananthapuram: In what was made out as an inadvertent remark, but interpreted by opposition as a calculated move, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s announcement that the Covid vaccine would be provided free of cost in Kerala has snowballed into controversy reaching the doors of the Election Commission.
Opposition parties have moved the Election Commission to take action against Vijayan for violating the code of conduct for the local body elections, in which the third phase of voting is taking place on Monday.
They alleged that the chief minister had tried deliberately to mislead people and take advantage of the free vaccine distribution, which had already been announced by the central government.
Vijayan, who has stayed away from public meetings as part of electioneering, used his evening press conference to make the announcement about the vaccine as well as to renew his broadside against the central investigating agencies, inviting scorn from the opposition parties.
State BJP president K Surendran described the outbursts as the chief minister’s wailing against the investigations, which, according to him, betrayed his criminal mind. It was ironic that the chief minister, who had invited the central agencies to investigate the sensational gold smuggling, was now complaining to the prime minister as he started feeling the heat of investigations, Surendran said.
The chief minister’s attitude was condemnable and a challenge to the rule of law, he said, but asserted that his tactics would simply not work. As it became increasingly clear that the probe would end up with the chief minister, he was taking subversive action, the BJP leader alleged. He further claimed that the state government was using its own agencies to thwart the investigations.
Pinarayi Vijayan had declared at the press meet that his additional private secretary CM Raveendran, who had been dodging his questioning by citing health problems, had nothing to fear from the questioning and that he would present himself before the agencies once his health permits.
CM Raveendran is believed to be the crucial link that connects the questionable deals to the chief minister and resisted three notices by Enforcement Directorate for questioning by claiming that he was down with Covid and then suffering from post-Covid complications.