All constituents of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) have expressed the opinion that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy need not be brought within the ambit of the proposed judicial inquiry into the solar scam.
At the end of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s consultation exercise with the constituents on Tuesday, it was decided to carry forward the process of discussion at the Cabinet level on the basis of the draft terms of reference to be formulated by the Home Department.
Mr. Chandy held consultations with Finance Minister and Kerala Congress(M) leader K.M. Mani and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala, taking off from the first round he had with the junior partners of the UDF on Monday on the issue of including the Chief Minister’s Office and the Chief Minister in the terms of reference of the proposed judicial probe on the basis of the Left Democratic Front’s demand. He also held separate talks with Indian Union Muslim League leader and Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty late Monday.
Mr. Chennithala maintained a distance with the consultation process by informing the Chief Minister that he was free to take a decision on whether the Chief Minister’s Office or the Chief Minister should be brought within the purview of the probe. Being part of the administration, the Chief Minister was privy to the details of the solar cases, on the basis of which a decision could be taken, he said.
Mr. Kunhalikutty reportedly took a similar stand, though he cautioned the Chief Minister about the ‘high risks’ of including the Chief Minister in the terms of reference. Mr. Mani also took a firm, yet tactical, stand that the Chief Minister need not be brought within the purview of the judicial probe.
During the course of the discussions, the UDF leaders justified their positions, stating that it would be inappropriate to include the Chief Minister in the terms of reference on an issue related to a criminal offence committed by a member of his office staff. The current investigation had not established any direct criminal nexus. Sources said that when the Cabinet discusses the terms of reference, the propriety of undermining the Chief Minister’s post would also be taken up.
The sources said that the final terms of reference would be ready as soon as there is a clearer idea about the availability of a sitting judge on the basis of the Chief Minister’s letter to the Chief Justice urging her to reconsider the court’s decision not to spare a sitting judge for the proposed probe.