Thiruvananthapuram

Anti-govt. protests sweep State on ‘Kerala Piravi’ day

Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition observed the occasion as ‘day of betrayal’.   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

Kerala witnessed a spate of anti-government protests on the 65th anniversary of its formation on November 1.

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers took to the streets to spotlight the ongoing money laundering investigations against M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, and Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of the State secretary of the CPI (M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition observed the occasion as ‘day of betrayal’.

UDF activists assembled in Municipal and Panchayat wards across the State to draw public attention to the alleged wrongdoings of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.

UDF claimed that the demonstrators in each ward did not exceed 10 persons. They wore masks and maintained physical distance.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala inaugurated the State-wide protest in front of the Secretariat here.

He said Mr. Vijayan ruled behind an “iron curtain in privileged isolation”.

The Chief Minister remained remote and distant from Ministers, legislators and ordinary people. His office was a “citadel, closed to all but gold smugglers and commission agents”, Mr. Chennithala alleged.

UAE gold smuggling case suspect Swapna Suresh, P. Sarith and Sandeep Nair had “free rein to use the heft of the CMO for their illegal activities”. Mr. Sivasankar who headed the CMO was but a “tool in the hands of Mr. Vijayan”, Mr. Chennithala said.

Mr. Sivasankar had merely done Mr. Vijayan’s “bidding”. Central law enforcement agencies were knocking at Mr. Vijayan’s door, he claimed and added that the Chief Minister should resign to avoid further humiliation to himself and the State.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullapally Ramachandran and UDF convener M.M. Hassan were present.

Scores of BJP workers lined State and National Highways in Kerala in groups of five. BJP State president K. Surendran inaugurated the chain of protests in front of the Secretariat here.

Notice to Chief Secretary

Mr. Surendran said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had served notice to Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta to provide details regarding several mega projects launched by Mr. Sivasankar at the behest of Mr. Vijayan. They included E-mobility scheme, K-phone, Smart City and Down Town project.

(The government has neither confirmed nor denied the report. A senior officer told The Hindu that the administration might be able to provide some clarity in the matter on Monday).

Mr. Surendran alleged that Mr. Vijayan had used the mega projects as “avenues for personal corruption”. He had cut out coalition Ministers and ruling front partners from the schemes and promoted them in isolation with Mr. Sivasankar to benefit his family members.

Mr. Surendran said Mr. Vijayan had “amassed a vast personal fortune”. He reminded Mr. Vijayan of the incarceration of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad on corruption charges. He said nothing could save him from such a fate.

BJP’s allegation

Mr. Surendran said the ED was probing Mr. Bineesh Kodiyeri on the charge of using “illegally amassed wealth to bankroll drug traffickers”. He had allegedly created an array of shell companies to launder the proceeds from the crime. Mr. Surendran alleged that Mr. Bineesh Kodiyeri had become wealthy during the period when his father was Home and Tourism Minister. The ED’s investigation into the shady money trail would soon extend to Mr. Bineesh Kodiyeri’s family, his associates in the cinema field and also the Kerala Cricket Association, he claimed.

CPI(M) push back

The CPI(M) would hold neighbourhood level meetings on the evening of November 1 to counter the propaganda war unleashed by the Opposition to vilify the party and government.

The party messaging was clear in FB posts by its central leadership, including M.A. Baby and P. K. Sreemathy.

The BJP had sensed that CPI(M) was the moving force behind the mustering of secular forces in the country given the elections in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala (2021).

It wanted to put the CPI(M) on the defence by defaming party leaders and their kin. Hence, the BJP had unleashed federal law enforcement agencies against Opposition-ruled States.

The Centre feared the coming together of secular forces under the aegis of the CPI(M) could turn the tide of the battle against Sangh Parivar forces in the coming elections.

The Centre had attempted to whittle down the electoral prospects of the CPI(M) in Kerala by laying down a barrage of lies against the government.

The Centre leaked cherry-picked portions of the statements given by the accused to federal law enforcement agencies to its enablers in the television, print and online media.

The CPI(M) has asked its rank and file to explain the current political situation to the public. It has maintained that the media was attempting to blame the CPI(M) for the private conduct of Mr. Sivasankar or Mr. Bineesh Kodiyeri.


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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 6:19:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/anti-govt-protests-sweep-state-on-kerala-piravi-day/article32995949.ece

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