Options seems to be running out for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy with the adverse remark from the Kerala High Court on Tuesday. Calls for his resignation have loudened, especially with those from the ruling front too joining the chorus.
“It was high time that the leadership of the UDF accepted the will of the public and acted accordingly. Even while the Chief Minister said the scam was only around Rs. five crore, I have been putting it near Rs. 15 crore. Now, it has been officially accepted that the solar scam is Rs. 16 crore,” Government Chief Whip P.C. George told The Hindu.
Detractors have been pointing out that the ongoing investigation by the Special Investigation Team led by A. Hemachandran, Additional Director General of Police, South Zone, was either not in the right direction or under tremendous pressure.
“The police team is yet to recover even a single rupee of the money which has been allegedly swindled,” said Mr. George.
The ongoing probe failed to interrogate or take statement from Mr. Chandy despite his office being directly linked to at least four major cases that have come up so far.
The first case where Mr. Chandy’s office has been directly indicted is the complaint given by Bangalore-based business man M.K. Kuruvilla. He had alleged that two persons, one claiming to be a relative of the Chief Minister and another Chief Minister’s personal assistant, duped him of more than Rs. 1 crore after promising to make him part of project to be set up in municipalities.
He also alleged that the accused brought him to Mr. Chandy to win his confidence. Even though, Mr. Kuruvilla complained in person to the Chief Minister, probe didn’t gain traction. The police later said that the complainant did not turn up to give evidence or substantiate his allegation.
On the other hand, during the course of investigation a complaint was lodged against Mr. Kuruvilla, saying that he duped another person of Rs. 45 lakh. It was alleged that he made people invest money in his company after promising attractive returns through Forex trading. Mr. Kuruvilla was arrested and remanded.
This case has resonance with the complaints lodged by T.C. Mathew, a Thiruvananthapuram-based businessman and Sasidharan Nair, Chengannur-based businessman. Both Mr. Mathew and Mr. Nair said they had complained directly to the Chief Minister but no action was taken against the accused. Mr. Mathew said he got a call from Sarita, the main accused, a day after he complained to the Chief Minister.
Mr. Nair had gone on record that he was present when Sarita presented the cheque for donation to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and recollected that Mr. Chandy lauded the initiatives by Sarita and Biju. In the case of Sajjad P.M., Perumbavoor-based businessman, the tool used for duping was a letter of endorsement under the official letterhead of the Chief Minister. The police have found that the letter was forged by Biju.
The alleged slow pace of probe only worsened the political quagmire in which Mr. Chandy has ended up.
“This is basically an issue of political morality. The image of the Chief Minister has been tainted beyond repair. The court on Tuesday has only reiterated what political leaders like K. Muralidharan and P.C. George have been saying – that the present police team is not able to do an honest probe into the scam,” said A. Jayasankar, political observer.
“Unlike in judiciary, where the suspect is treated innocent till proven guilty, no such leniency is given in politics. Even the media and public support that the Chief Minister has been building up through his mass contact programmes is not helping him now,” said Mr. Jayasankar.