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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Headwinds of corruption slow down Vijayan’s flight to new heights of popularity

No leader in Kerala in the recent past has reached a high like Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and none either has had such a bad fall like him, as the once indomitable tough Vijayan is finding the going tough in the wake of allegations of corruption which are now reaching dangerous propositions.

Even though Vijayan in his first term came under massive attack from Swapna Suresh, who is alleged to have been in the good books of Vijayan, his wife and daughter. She went hammer and tongs making grave allegations, including smuggling of gold and foreign currency. Amid all this Vijayan managed to win a second term in 2021 and that too with an increased margin.

Since then, though initially his stock rose like never before, the sailing now appears to be not that smooth as the opposition is going all out against him. First time Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnaden has attacked Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan and her ‘Exalogic’ IT firm.

For the past few months, the issue with regards to Veena surfaced after a media report, quoting an Income Tax Department office claimed that her firm had received Rs 1.72 crore from a Kochi-based mining company CMRL, where the state-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) has a stake. Kuzhalnadan went hammer and tongs both inside and outside the Assembly, which left Vijayan running for cover.

On Friday, a TV channel came out with Vijayan’s 2022 statement in the Assembly over the allegations against his company wherein he totally denied Kuzhalnadan’s attack against Veena. However, hours before this old footage came out, the Congress led a massive onslaught against Vijayan, and Speaker A.N. Shamsheer instantly disallowed it without even the Opposition able to present a notice for seeking an adjournment motion to discuss this.

Shamsheer said the rules do not permit taking up an issue which is sub judice. The entire opposition were up on their feet, shouted slogans and came before the Speaker’s dais. With an adamant Speaker, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan led the entire opposition legislators out of the House.

“Two statutory agencies are now probing the affairs of the company of Vijayan’s daughter and this is a serious one. What is to be noted is that the probe by SFIO is very grave and Vijayan’s daughter’s firm is being probed. It’s high time that Vijayan quits,” said Satheesan while speaking to the media outside the assembly.

“Vijayan is scared and on Friday, he was not even present in the Assembly. All along he maintained after this scam first surfaced, that the Income Tax department never gave an opportunity to her company to explain. Now the Registrar of Companies says that despite asking for the erring company’s response, they never gave any clear response,” added Satheesan.

The fresh onslaught by the opposition came when the news spread that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has commenced its probe into the affairs of Veena’s firm and also of CMRL and KSIDC.

Though Vijayan broke his silence that his hands are clean, he has come under strong attack from Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan.

“Pinarayi Vijayan should stop saying comedy as he cannot wash his hands off. Merely saying that his hands are clean is of no use. There is nothing new to add in the case connected to Veena Vijayan’s IT firm. All wish to know what services were rendered by her IT firm to CMRL to get Rs 1.72 crore,” said Muraleedharan.

“Even the CMRL could not give a satisfactory answer for that. Vijayan cannot get away by saying that his wife was haunted in the past and now his daughter is being targeted. The stage has come that even the comrades in Kannur (the home district of Vijayan) will not believe what Vijayan says,” added Muraleedharan.

The one big advantage for Vijayan so far is that he has got a huge support from his party.

After a meeting of top Kerala CPI(M) leaders on Friday where the issue was discussed, state party secretary M.V. Govindan told the media that the entire case was politically motivated and hence they will deal with it politically and legally.

“All know that the real target in this case is none other than Vijayan. This case is nothing if it is minus Vijayan. This case is now in the news after Shaun George (son of seven-time former legislator P.C.George — both of whom joined the BJP ) went forward with the case,” said Govindan.

The veteran George said things will be tough for both Vijayan and Veena as the probe will catch up with both of them. “I have studied the entire case and things do not augur well for the father and the son,” said George.

With the Assembly in session and the Congress determined to take on Vijayan, the coming days will be eagerly watched as the SFIO will soon be serving a notice to Veena and this could place Vijayan in a tighter spot, a position which he has never been in.

(This article has been published via a syndicated feed)

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