Months ahead of assembly polls in Kerala, the LDF government has decided to recommend a CBI probe into cases against former chief minister Oommen Chandy and five others filed over allegations of sexual exploitation by a prime accused woman in the sensational solar scam. The opposition Congress on Sunday dubbed the move as "politically motivated", saying the CPIM-led government could not find anything against the party leaders in the last five years and taken the decision as elections were around the corner, while Chandy asserted he was ready to face any probe.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan also attacked the government, saying the decision for the Central Bureau of Investigation probe had been taken in view of the polls. Protesting the government move, Youth Congress workers took out a march to the Secretariat here and burnt an effigy of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
However, CPI-M state secretary in-charge A Vijayaraghavan, rejecting the charge of political motivation, told reporters that it was only a natural course of action to "ensure justice to the complainant." After the state government decided to give its consent for the CBI probe, a gazette notification has been issued. The cases against the six, including Chandy, were registered over the past several years and investigated by the Crime Branch police based on a complaint by the woman accused in the multi-crore solar panel scam during the previous UDF government that she was sexually exploited by them in 2012.
Besides Chandy, who was recently appointed head of 10- member election management panel of the party for the state polls expected in April-May, Congress MPs K C Venugopal, Hibi Eden and Adoor Prakash and MLA A P Anil Kumar and BJP leader A P Abdulla Kutty are the accused in the six cases. The case against Abdulla Kutty had been registered in 2014 when he was a Congress MLA from Kannur. He later joined BJP.
The complainant, who had levelled allegations of rape against the Congress leaders, had recently written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking CBI probe as the police probe had limitations. The woman and her co-accused in the scam had allegedly duped several investors of crores of rupees by offering to set up solar panel units for them.
In a letter to the police commissioner on July 19, 2013, the woman had levelled charges of sexual misconduct and corruption against several Congress and UDF leaders, including Chandy, some of his ministers and two former Union ministers. This is the second case in which the LDF government has recommended an investigation by CBI this month. Earlier, on January 11, it decided to hand over to the agency the probe into the death of two minor sisters after alleged sexual assault in 2017 at Walayar.
The Vijayan government has been accusing the central agencies of targeting it after they started investigating the gold smuggling cases and had in November last year withdrawn general consent to the CBI to probe cases in the state. Reacting to the fresh development, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged it was a "political stunt".
For five years when the Left front government has been in power, they could not find anything and when elections were round the corner, the case has been handed over to the central agency, the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly said in a statement on Sunday. Chandy, who headed the Congress-led UDF government during the turbulent days following the solar scam, said: "What did this (LDF) government do for five years with the case? They have now handed it over to CBI." State Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran also slammed the government, alleging the CBI probe was done with ulterior motives.
The cases were investigated by three senior IPS officers and nothing was found. "This is politically motivated," Ramachandran, told reporters. Lashing out at the Vijayan government, Muraleedharan said for five years the government "failed to even lift a small finger" in the case and now when assembly polls were just months away, it has decided to recommend the CBI probe.
In a statement, the BJP leader claimed the decision was taken as the LDF feared defeat in the assembly polls due to "theloss of face it suffered" following the probe by central agencies into the gold smuggling case and the Life Mission project. BJP state president K Surendran said the CPI(M) and the LDF had earlier decided that there was no need for a CBI probe in the solar case and a judicial probe would be sufficient.
As the elections were approaching, the change in stance of the Left front was to cheat the people of the state, he said, adding the Judicial commission headed by former high court judge G Sivarajan, had also probed the case.