Kerala

Pinarayi didn’t feign ignorance about Swapna: CMO

On Thursday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office (CMO) denied that he had ever feigned ignorance of the gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh.

In an arguably unusual move, the CMO released a 2020 news conference video of Mr. Vijayan to bolster its claim.

In the video, Mr. Vijayan is seen taking questions from journalists. When they asked whether he knew Swapna, Mr. Vijayan said: “I know the person only in an official capacity. She had accompanied the UAE Consulate General whenever he called on the Chief Minister. For several years, the person was the executive secretary of the mission. The Consul General has met me several times. The person always accompanied the diplomat.”

When asked whether he had designated his former Principal Secretary M. Sivasankar as the go-to person to work with the UAE consulate and Swapna, Mr. Vijayan said: "I cant recall. Naturally, being the Chief Minister's Principal Secretary, official entities could contact him. I do not see anything wrong or unusual in that per se".

Soon after the CMO released the video, Swapna reportedly reiterated her allegations in a statement filed in a Kochi court.

Swapna’s claim

Swapna reportedly claimed that the previous administration had urged her to explore investment options and select business partners for Mr. Vijayan's daughter.

Swapna also repeated her allegation that the previous administration had “illegally imported contraband metal” via the UAE consulate’s diplomatic channel in a “brass biriyani vessel” at the behest of the Cliff House, the CM’s official residence. Swapna had also claimed that she had digital evidence, including chats, to prove her accusations.

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan urged Mr. Vijayan to counter Swapna’s allegations legally instead of hiding from the public gaze. He challenged Mr. Vijayan to face the press. “If the Chief Minister proves that Swapna’s allegations are false in a court of law, she could face several years in prison for defamation.”

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said Swapna’s “disclosures” were just the tip of the iceberg. More would follow, he said.

BJP State president K. Surendran said Central agencies probing the gold case should weigh the new evidence adduced by Swapna. Mr. Vijayan should counter the accusations in a court of law instead of hounding the complainant and unleashing CPI(M) cadres and police against anti-government demonstrators.


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Printable version | Sep 29, 2022 12:25:02 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/pinarayi-didnt-feign-ignorance-about-swapna-cmo/article65530152.ece