Opposition stirs up a storm over CAG report

UDF seeks removal of Loknath Behera as State Police Chief

The Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) on Thursday sought to reap political dividend out of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s finding that the police had bypassed statutory norms of fiscal probity to acquire pricey equipment at questionable rates using Central funds earmarked for modernisation projects.

The police headquarters, which is responsible for procurement, appeared to be at the centre of the maelstrom as adverse reports buffeted the department.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala penned an open letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking the removal of Loknath Behera as State Police Chief. He said the CAG had singled out Mr. Behera for criticism and listed his ‘financial shenanigans’ in the audit report.

CM responsible: Cong.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran and Congress legislator P.T. Thomas also stepped up their criticism of the Police Department.

Mr. Ramachandran said Mr. Vijayan had passed over several senior officers and hand-picked Mr. Behera to the post and was vicariously responsible for hisactions. He said Mr. Behera had sacrificed the interests of the rank and file of the force by diverting modernisation funds to build villas and buy luxury cars for officers instead of quarters for subordinates and hardy vehicles for station use.

Mr. Thomas said the Chief Minister’s Office could not wash its hands of the fraud and sought an anti-corruption inquiry.

Mr. Chennithala also sought a National Investigation Agency inquiry into the CAG’s finding that the police could not account for 25 assault rifles and 12,061 rounds of live ammunition.

The Chief Minister’s Office said it was not in receipt of Mr. Chennithala’s letter. However, the government was of the view that Mr. Behera had done no wrong. The police had replied to the CAG’s queries. But, the government felt the answers were not fully factored in the final report.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 1:07:21 AM |

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