Govt. begins legal, political pushback against Swapna’s charges

Swapna Suresh, an accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case, during a press meet in Palakkad on Thursday.

Swapna Suresh, an accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case, during a press meet in Palakkad on Thursday. | Photo Credit: K.K. MUSTAFAH

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has begun a political and legal pushback against the alleged “Congress-BJP conspiracy” to vilify Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The LDF felt that the “axis” had engaged in character assassination by vindictively bracketing Mr. Vijayan with “discredited” UAE consulate staff accused of misusing the embassy’s diplomatic channel to bring contraband into the country by dodging Customs inspection.

Swapna Suresh, the prime suspect in the gold smuggling case, had recently reignited the controversy by accusing Mr. Vijayan of unethically exploiting the consulate’s diplomatic channel to import contraband “metal” and smuggle out foreign currency for personal gain.

Protests galore

Meanwhile, confrontational congress protests demanding Mr. Vijayan's resignation roiled Kerala for the second consecutive day.

Several persons were injured when Congress workers braved water cannons and skirmished with the police in several districts.

However, the anti-government demonstrations did not deter the administration from announcing a 12-member Crime Branch team headed by ADGP Sheikh Darvesh Saheb to uncover the "plot" to malign Mr. Vijayan. The agency has named Swapna and Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader P.C. George coconspirators in the case.

The police also opposed Swapna’s bid to seek anticipatory bail in the High Court and expedited their inquiries in other criminal cases pending against her.

Allegations of pressure

On Thursday, the public scandal became murkier, with Swapna accusing an acquaintance of coercing her to retract her damning statement against Mr. Vijayan.

Rumours were rife in the media that a ranking police officer, a popular television presenter and a real estate agent were involved in the "influence operation". The individuals have denied the insinuations.

Oppn. charge

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan noted that the government’s conduct betrayed a telltale nervousness. The administration had barefacedly sent an emissary to placate Swapna.

The government had also misused State’s might to intimidate the complainant and foist false cases on her.

BJP State president K. Surendran echoed a similar sentiment and compared Mr. Vijayan to North Korean "dictator" Kim Jong-un.

LDF's parry

K. T. Jaleel parried the opposition attack by stating the UAE gold case probe had ended in a blind alley. Central agencies had found no evidence to incriminate Left leaders.

Mr. Jaleel found some support from unlikely quarters. Mr. George, who Mr. Jaleel had accused of plotting against the government, asked the BJP to explain why the high-profile investigation had petered out.

Meanwhile, Congress has upped the ante in its political strife with the government. On Friday, Congress workers will lay siege to district collectorates demanding Mr. Vijayan's resignation.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 12:46:55 pm |