Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition Congress and the BJP on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan citing the ED's chargesheet which claimed he was in knowledge of the appointment of gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna Suresh in the Space Park. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged "the link" between Suresh and the chief minister "has been proved".
BJP leader K Surendran said it was "shocking" that Suresh, the accused, during her official meetings with suspended IAS officer M Sivashankar had met the Chief Minister 5-6 times. In an interim charge-sheet submitted in the Special Court for PMLA cases, the Enforcement Directorate has said a thorough investigation of Sivasankar is required in the gold smuggling case as he had allegedly facilitated opening a locker in a bank for Suresh.
The ED claimed she had given it a statement, saying she was selected in the state government promoted Space Park project as she was close to Sivasankar. Her appointment was in the knowledge of the Chief Minister of Kerala, the agency has said.
"The ED has found that the appointment of Swapna Suresh at the Space Park was with the knowledge of the Chief Minister. The link between the accused in the smuggling caseand the chief minister is proved. He does not have the right to continue in the post. We seek his resignation," Chennithala told reporters. Surendran claimed that with Suresh's statement, the'link'betweenthe gold smugglers and the chief minister "has \been revealed." "It's been proven that the chief minister knew Swapna Suresh from the time she was the secretary of the Consul General of the UAE. It's shocking that during her official meetings with Sivashankaran, she had met the chief minister 5-6 times. The Chief Minister should resign," he said in a statement.
In her statement to the ED, Suresh claimed Sivasankar had asked her to submit her resume to PriceWaterhouseCoopersPvt Ltd (PWC) over an opening in the Space Park project under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd(KSITIL), the central agency said in its interim charge sheet. Suresh, who allegedly played a key role in the smuggling of gold using diplomatic channels, had put Sivasankar's name as a reference in her resume and she was selected for the opening in the Space Park in October 2019,the ED said.
In her statement to the ED on August 8, Suresh said she met Sivasankar around eight times officially, but many times unofficially. She has also said she met Sivasankar five to six times in the presence of the Chief Minister of Kerala, the ED said in the interim charge-sheet.
Central agencies, including NIA, Customs and Enforcement Directorate, are conducting a separate probe into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a "diplomatic baggage"at Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5. Several people, including two former employees of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, Suresh and Sarith P S, have been arrested in connection with the case.
The opposition parties have been gunning for there signation of Vijayan since the racket came to light. The Marxist veteran has, however, maintained none involved in the case would be spared and stern action would betaken.