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Probity of party’s probe panel questioned

Staff Reporter
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CPI(M) panel members at odds even before probe into Bolgatty land deal begins

A view of the land reclaimed by the Cochin Port Trust at Bolgatty island.— File photo
A view of the land reclaimed by the Cochin Port Trust at Bolgatty island.— File photo

With its panel members openly taking contradictory positions, questions are being raised about the propriety of the CPI (M) panel formed to probe the controversial Bolgatty land deal.

The party had recently appointed a two-member panel with P. Rajeev, MP, and K. Chandran Pillai as its members. The panel, according to party sources, was to go into the whole gamut of the issue from the decision of the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) to reclaim the land for port-related activities and the developments that led to the leasing out of the land to a private entrepreneur. It would also look into the process through which the lease value of the land was fixed, sources said.

However, party district secretary C.M. Dinesh Mani had slammed the deal and asked for its termination as it “caused huge revenue loss to the government.” Mr. Mani’s statement came after the party district secretariat deliberating on the issue. Going by the party system, the views expressed by its secretary are deemed final and are also regarded as the outcome of the collective decision of the party forum, which he is representing.

Distancing himself from the decision of the party Ernakulam district secretariat, Mr. Pillai, a staunch VS loyalist, openly supported the industrialist. Mr. Pillai, who feels that the industrialist’s decision to withdraw from the project was unfortunate, is of the view that CPT had allotted the land after looking into all aspects. He also gave a testimony to the industrialist M.A. Yusuff Ali as an industrialist who never violates laws.

Giving a rude shock to the party bosses, Mr. Pillai had also stated that the party was not in favour of Mr. Ali exiting from the project but wanted to bring clarity to the issue, which had created some suspicion in the minds of people. He also went on to add that more investments should be brought to the State with the cooperation of Mr. Ali.

However, when asked about the propriety of panel members taking open and contradicting positions on the controversial issue, Mr. Pilli refused to comment.

K.M. Shajahan, former private secretary of the Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan, termed the exercise of appointing a committee as a farce.

According to him, it’s not the party’s intention to come out with the truth in the issue. The views of the party in the issue were clearly spelt out by its district secretary. It was for the first time in his political life spanning over three decades that Mr. Pillai had openly expressed his views on an issue debated inside the party, he said. Mr. Shajahan also asked why the party leaders, including M.M. Lawrence, who raised the issue in public, kept quite on the deal.

Dinesh Mani, when contacted, said the party was firm on its views that the deal should be called off. He also asserted that Lulu mall had encroached upon public land. However, he refused to comment on the propriety of the party committee.

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