Congress, BJP demand Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation

Political heat: BJP MLA O. Rajagopal at a protest demanding the resignation of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.

Political heat: BJP MLA O. Rajagopal at a protest demanding the resignation of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan.  

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition and the BJP on Saturday ratcheted up their demand for the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The parties have also independently announced a season of anti-government agitations in August to spotlight the alleged alliance of the Chief Minister’s Office with the international syndicate that smuggled gold in bulk into Kerala in air cargo consignments addressed to the UAE consulate here.

The impending spell of agitations come against the backdrop of reports that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had broadened its probe into the gold smuggling racket to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The agency, which was looking into the national security ramifications, had also inspected a training institute under the Ministry of Higher Education headed by K.T. Jaleel, bringing the Minister’s office awkwardly close to the high-profile probe.

The Opposition parties had earlier accused Mr. Jaleel of having “accepted gifts”, including huge consignments of provisions, without the Centre’s approval from the UAE consulate. Mr. Jaleel had said he had distributed the ‘Ramzan’ relief kits in his constituency in Malappuram. The Congress and the BJP now wanted to know whether the accused had used the “relief consignment” from the UAE to smuggle gold into the country and if Mr. Jaleel had abetted the crime.

The Opposition parties had exploited the optics of Mr. Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary, M. Sivasankar, being questioned repeatedly by the NIA and the Customs to attack the government.

State BJP president K. Surendran, who inaugurated a sit-in by O. Rajagopal, MLA, via video conference said the government was neck-deep in the smuggling case.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala will set the UDF agitation plan rolling by staging a sit-in at his residence here on August 3.

NIA sleuths in Chennai

Sleuths of the NIA probing the case landed in Chennai late on Friday and were conducting enquiries with some Customs officials here, police sources said on Saturday.

Acting on a specific input, the team led by a DIG visited Bengaluru and then reached Chennai to make inquiries with the Customs officials. No arrests were made yet though there was information on searches being conducted at a couple of places, the sources said.

(With inputs from Chennai)

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 11:21:03 PM |

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