Caught in a tight spot, the Kerala CPI(M)’s strategy now is ‘attack is the best defence’ and after hitting out at the national probe agencies, it is the CAG that came under its ire on Sunday. State Finance Minister Thomas Issac went hammer and tongs against the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The CPI-M in order to take the battle against the various central agencies, has decided to organise a state-wide protest on Monday. Around 2.5 million party supporters are expected to gather across the state to warn the Centre, not to settle political scores using agencies.
Already Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has gone on record against the various probe agencies engaged in unravelling scams in the southern state and tore into them stating that they were engaging in political vendetta, unleashed by the BJP, which is at the Centre.
Since July 5, when the gold smuggling scam surfaced and also the impropriety in Vijayan’s pet project-Life Mission surfaced, the NIA, Customs, CBI, ED and the Income Tax have been working overtime in Kerala and has left the CPI-M and Vijayan red-faced.
Then came the unexpected turn of events, when Bineesh Kodiyeri, the son of CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was picked up by the Bengaluru unit of the ED after his links surfaced with Anoop Mohammed who was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau.
Incidentally the double blow came for Vijayan and the CPI-M, as on October 29, both, M.Sivasankar- the secretary of Vijayan and Bineesh were arrested by the ED.
While Sivasankar was arrested by the Kochi unit for his alleged links in the gold smuggling case, after it surfaced that he and the prime accused Swapna Suresh were friends and partners in the ‘crime’, Bineesh arrest was by the Bengaluru unit.
At present both are in jail — one in Kochi and other in Bengaluru.
Just as the Life Mission (project for building homes for the homeless) is the pet project of Vijayan, KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) is one that raises emotions and passions for Issac. KIIFB is a government owned financial institution formed to mobilize funds for infrastructure development from outside the state revenue and numerous projects are assigned funds from KIIFB.
On Sunday, Issac breathed fire on the CAG, after he himself blurted out to the media that the draft report of the CAG audit report on KIIFB does not augur well and is a blatant attack by the Centre on the state.
The draft report is understood to have pointed out the lapses in the way KIIFB was run and Issac is reported to have briefed his party about it and the party has given its nod to take on the CAG.
“It’s unprecedented act of the CAG and it appears it’s out to spoil the development of Kerala. It’s true it’s a constitutional body, but they have to realise that and hence we will not take things lying down," said Issac.
But State BJP President K.Surendran said all this is a ploy of the CPI-M as they are caught in major scams.
“The gold smuggling gang has also got themselves involved in KIIFB projects too and Issac and Swapna Suresh have a good relation and Issac will run into trouble because of this. Issac is launching a broadside against the CAG because they have brought out the wrongs that has taken place in KIIFB. Just wait and see how things are going to unfold as the ED has to probe the KIIFB also," said Surendran.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said: “Issac has violated the basic tenants of law as how can a Minister reveal the contents of a CAG report, as it becomes a public document only when it’s placed before the assembly.
“Issac thinks he can distract the attention of all from the gold smuggling and other cases. Already Balakrishnan has quit and now it’s turn of Vijayan to quit. Issac is just trying to take things away from the other scams and has taken on the CAG."
The Congress-led opposition is contemplating to take on Issac for his revelation on the draft CAG report, by approaching the President and the Kerala Governor.