Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan
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Even as the Kerala government and the ruling front accuse the Centre of using its agencies to destabilise the state’s communist ministry, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has been accused of using state investigative agencies to settle scores with the opposition.

Former public works minister Ibrahim Kunju was on Wednesday arrested on his hospital bed by a state Vigilance team in connection with the Palarivattom bridge construction scam. The bridge in the state’s commercial capital of Kochi, constructed at a cost of Rs 39 crore, showed signs of cracking even before it was opened to traffic.

The ex-minister was in the evening remanded to 14 days of judicial custody. The Vigilance demand for four days of his custody was turned down in view of his health condition.

Ibrahm Kunju s the fifth accused in the case, in which the MD of the construction company is the prime accused, along with some officials of the state government. Kunju is faulted for sanctioning an advance payment of Rs 3 crore to the construction company.

A day before the arrest, the ruling front had organised state-wide protests against the unwelcome probes by various central agencies into the twin scams of gold smuggling as well as the Life Mission kickbacks. The central agencies have extended their probe into four main projects of the state government on the basis of clues collected during the investigations.

The opposition parties have used the probe by the central agencies to discredit the government and derive maximum political mileage out of the ruling front’s predicament.

With the arrest of Ibrahim Kunju, two MLAs belonging to the opposition UDF are now behind bars, provoking the opposition parties, which accuse the government of retaliatory action to hide the embarrassment of the Pinarayi government having come under a cloud due to various scams.

Another MLA belonging to the Indian Union Muslim League, a key component of the UDF, was earlier arrested in connection with a case of deposit collection by a jewellery that went awry.

The timing of the scams is particularly worrying for the government and the ruling party as the state is preparing to hold local body elections next month, the results of which are crucial for the assembly elections that are to follow next year.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala accused chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan of setting the state Vigilance on the back of the opposition functionaries to divert public attention from the various scams that are believed to have dimmed the chances of the ruling front in the elections.

The search for a cause for such a campaign has already ended up in state finance minister Thomas Isaac raising the banner of revolt against a CAG report that found fault with the market borrowings of state infrastructure funding entity KIIFB.

The so-called ‘predatory’ move has, however, boomeranged, with the minister having been caught lying on the status of the report, prompting the opposition to cite violation of privileges of the assembly as the details the content were disclosed in public before the report was submitted in the house.

Opposition leaders see the embarrassment as another pressing reason for action against the members of the UDF.

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