National

Oommen Chandy feels the heat of solar scam

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 11, 2017

Dark days ahead? Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy - Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Former Kerala CM faces probe after inquiry commission finds him and his office to have been ‘directly involved’ in the scam

In a massive setback to the Congress in Kerala, a commission of inquiry has found former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy and his office to have been ‘directly involved’ in the sensational solar scam.

In an even more damaging move, the commission opined that suitable proceedings may be launched against Chandy after his name was found in the list of VIPs produced by prime scam-accused Saritha Nair and who had demanded sexual favours. Accordingly, the Kerala government has decided to institute a vigilance probe into the corruption charge against Chandy as also into the allegation of outraging a woman’s modesty.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said: “A decision in this regard was taken on the basis of the findings of the Justice G Sivarajan Commission, which probed the scam and had last month submitted its report to the government. The government has also decided to launch further probe into the scam by a special investigation team against Chandy, Aryadan Muhammed and another former minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan after registering a case against them.”

The commission of inquiry was originally set up by Chandy himself at the height of the controversy. Only, it has come back to haunt him after being out of power and constantly harangued by his detractors.

‘Selective leaking’

Reacting to the development in Thrissur, Chandy said the government selectively leaking the contents meant that it lacked credibility and will remain as such until the full contents are known to public.

Chandy said he had sufficient reasons to believe that certain portions in the report were ‘cooked up’ and he will seek legal recourse on them.

Meanwhile in Delhi, the Congress High Command came out in support of Chandy and other Congress leaders. Senior leader and Congress Working Committee member AK Antony said the LDF government violated the model code of conduct by announcing a probe on the day of the by-election in Vengara, Malappuram. He said the real intention of the LDF government is to break the base of the Congress in the State. “This will not happen,” he added. Antony said the CPI(M) thinks that it can decimate the Congress from Kerala by helping the BJP to gain ground in the State. Antony alleged the CPI(M) has been protecting the Jan Raksha Yatra of Kummanam Rajasekharan, State BJP president. “Based in three States, it is impossible for the CPI(M) to defeat BJP politically,” he said.

He said the Kerala unit of the CPI(M) considers Congress as its main enemy, while for the Congress, the BJP is the main opponent.

Political implications

Nevertheless, the report could not have come at a worse time for the Congress which is going through the motion of conducting long-delayed internal elections, in which a faction led by Chandy has major stakes.

It remains to be seen whether the scam, the nature of his involvement and the resultant case would affect the political career of Chandy, once considered among the cleanest politicians in the State, and pushing the late 70s.

The latest developments also presented a throwback to a couple of years ago when the bar bribery scam forced his nonagenarian Finance Minister KM Mani to resign well ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections.

Interestingly, the name of Mani’s son Jose K Mani, MP from Kottayam, is among those mentioned in the list of her ‘tormentors’ produced by Saritha Nair.

The revelations also came on a day when voters in the Vengara Assembly constituency were exercising their franchise to elect their new legislator after Muslim League leader PK Kunhalikutty had vacated it to become a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Given this, it was natural for an assortment of UDF functionaries to come to the aid of the Congress party and voice their protest against the ruling CPI(M), which they said was ‘busy pushing a certain agenda.’

Aryadan Muhammed, a former cabinet colleague and cited by the commission, questioned the logic of the Chief Minister in having chosen to rush with the contents before they were tabled in the State Assembly.

Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, former Home Minister, was another high-profile name whom the commission faulted for ‘suppressing facts in order to save Chandy’ and also for misguiding a special investigation team.

Sensational for the list of political heavyweights involved rather than the actual sum involved, the solar scam had played a big role in the defeat of the UDF in the 2016 Assembly elections.

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Published on October 11, 2017
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