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Centre violating Model of Code of Conduct: Kerala CM

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 04, 2021

Calls out ‘attempts to browbeat KIIFB’

Controversy over the Enforcement Directorate (ED) instituting an inquiry into the functioning of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and summoning its top officials for interrogation has escalated to the next level with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan writing to the Chief Election Commissioner against ‘attempts by some Union Ministers to torpedo the Model Code of Conduct.’

It was only yesterday (Wednesday) that the state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had launched a diatribe against the Centre while speaking to newspersons here and dared it to do what it can to the KIIFB, a financial institution set up by the cash-strapped government to mobilise funds from outside for infrastructure development.

“If the idea is to continue to intimidate the State government in the matter, we would be ready to give it back in kind,” Isaac had thundered in a Facebook post only the previous day after the ED announced a probe into the working of the key infrastructure funding arm of the State government.

Intemperate ED behaviour

The Chief Minister recalled in his letter that the Model Code of Conduct is already in force with the state going to the polls on April 6. KIIFB is a body corporate fully owned by the State government, some of whose officials, women included, have been subjected to intemperate behaviour by ED officials at its Kochi office.

The stated subject matter of the investigation is the issue of rupee-designated Masala Bonds launched by KIIFB in 2019. The issue is neither one of recent occurrence nor one of urgent nature, the Chief Minister said, adding that the probe had followed the recent speech made in the state by the Union Finance Minister.

The prudent conclusion that can be drawn is that the undue hurry, haste and leakage of information to the media by ED officials are motivated by partisan political reasons. The speech by the Union Finance Minister against KIIFB was made during a yatra organised by the President of the Kerala unit of the BJP.

Misuse of power to summon

The ED appears to have been directed to misuse the power to summon a witness during an election campaign. On Tuesday, the electronic media ran the news that the summons had been issued to the CEO of KIIFB while it was clear that he had not been issued the summons at that time.

Such news is being leaked deliberately to vitiate the atmosphere and run a smear campaign against the officials and the State government. The very purpose of public trust deposed on officials is being betrayed due to the action of the Union Finance Minister, the Chief Minister said in his letter.

The rules laid down for conducting free and fair elections are being violated and this warrants the intervention by the Office of the Election Commission of India so that Central investigating agencies follow the statute in letter and spirit and a politically neutral manner, the Chief Minister wrote.

Published on March 04, 2021

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