In a dramatic development late into Monday night, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy expressed willingness to quit in the wake of a raging solar scam.

Political circles were rife with speculation about his continuance in office so soon after coming in for rare UN recognition for effective governance.

SUDDEN TURN

The sudden turn in the evolving scam came after news channels broke late last night explosive contents of a purportedly confidential statement made to court by an aggrieved solar entrepreneur in Pathanamthitta district.

Ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front went into a huddle for session almost immediately but resolved to stand behind Chandy.

The meeting was of the view that latest developments were part of a larger plot hatched by the Opposition CPM-led Left Democratic Front, which had not spared even Chandy’s family from its broadsides.

EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY

The meeting also advised the Chief Minister that there was no need to resign merely on the basis of the statement of Sreedharan Nair, aggrieved person in the scam.

The Chief Minister did not have to contemplate of the extreme step at least until the courts made any adverse comment on his alleged role in the case.

This was because Nair had repeatedly shifted positions and corrected himself on facts relating to the case, which involves swindling of money by scamsters masquerading as solar project consultants.

MEETING HELD

Nair had reportedly stated in his affidavit that he had met the Chief Minister in his office in July last year when the latter had promised all help to implement his solar panel project.

Significantly, he had also mentioned that Saritha Nair, one of the prime accused, was present as was Tenny Joppen, since fired from Chandy’s personal staff for being in cahoots with her.

Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, Chandy admitted that he had met with Nair but in an entirely different context.

DIFFERENT CONTEXT

The topic of discussion was issues relating to the quarrying sector of which Nair was an entrepreneur.

It was while responding to this that Nair came out with the revelation that the solar project was also discussed, which has now sought to directly link the Chief Minister in the scam.

SERIOUS CHARGE

Even giving Chandy the benefit of doubt, political circles are of the view that this was a serious charge suggesting his complicity on a par with, if not more than that of his fired secretary.

They are eagerly looking to hear out how Chandy responds to the issue in the State Assembly as it resumes this morning after having been adjourned on the issue yesterday.

It had met after a forced recess precipitated by the same issue from June 24.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 9, 2013)
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