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Updated: June 14, 2013 12:19 IST

Chandy staff phone call issue: Opposition stages walkout

Special Correspondent
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A file picture of Chief Minister Oomen Chandy.
The Hindu
A file picture of Chief Minister Oomen Chandy.

The Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Thursday when Chief Minister Oommen Chandy refused to accept its demand for a judicial probe into the reasons why a member of his personal staff had been in constant telephonic contact with a woman accused of financial deception.

CPI(M) MLA Raju Abraham raised the demand while serving notice for an adjournment motion to discuss why undesirable people should have links with the Chief Minister’s office. Mr. Chandy said the government would have the allegation investigated by a senior police officer. “I will not make anyone scapegoat to save my skin. Let us wait till the investigating officer gives an interim report,” he said when the Opposition pressed him to remove Tenny Joppan, his personal staff member, from his office and institute a judicial inquiry into the whole affair.

The charge against the Chief Minister’s office, raised by the CPI(M)-controlled Kairali People Television on Tuesday, was that 70 calls and messages were exchanged during a particular week between a phone in Mr. Joppan’s name and a phone used by a 35-year-old woman named Saritha S. Nair, who was an accused in several cases involving deception in the name of a non-existent solar power company.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, announcing the walkout, said the issue was not the deception cases against the woman but the connection between her and the Chief Minister’s office.

The Chief Minister said: “None could in any way cover up the facts [because of the telephone records]. I have made enquiries and have found that the woman has 13 cases against her. What is significant is whether she had received any help from my office. Let there be an investigation,” the Chief Minister said.

Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said in the Assembly on Thursday that Additional Director-General of Police (South Zone) A. Hemachandran would inquire into the allegations.

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