Kerala

Setback to LDF's bid to put gold case to the back burner

Police use water cannons to disperse Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists who were staging a protest demanding the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his alleged involvement in a gold smuggling case, in Kochi, on June 18, 2022.

Police use water cannons to disperse Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists who were staging a protest demanding the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his alleged involvement in a gold smuggling case, in Kochi, on June 18, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government's gambit to soundproof Kerala's political narrative from the jarring echoes of the 2020 UAE diplomatic baggage gold smuggling scandal seemed to suffer a setback on Wednesday.

The ruling front had allowed an Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion in the Assembly on Tuesday to draw a line under the "Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sponsored muckraking to denigrate" Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family.

However, Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the smuggling case, reprised her allegations to inhibit the government's bid to put the issue on the back burner. Swapna's "out of the blue" appearance in front of television cameras in Kochi prompted the visual media commentariat to discuss her bitter recriminations against Mr. Vijayan. The issue is also likely to figure again in the Assembly on Thursday.

Swapna repeated her litany of charges against Mr. Vijayan and his family. The accusations included sending a bag with questionable content via the UAE consulate's diplomatic channel to Mr. Vijayan's entourage touring the Gulf, violating established protocol. At the time, Swapna was the UAE consulate general's executive secretary. She claimed ominously that "Central agencies are working on the protocol violation."

Swapna repeated that Mr. Vijayan's family had toyed with the idea of persuading a Gulf potentate to let Kerala government start an IT hub in the Gulf country for allegedly giving a leg-up to Veena Vijayan, the Chief Minister's daughter and IT investor.

Swapna also accused the previous LDF administration of "selling" the personal health information of lakhs of Keralites to a big data analysis firm with several global pharmaceutical majors on its client list.

The previous administration had briefly enlisted the firm's help to forecast the COVID-19 spread pattern, given the high prevalence of lifestyle diseases and other comorbidities among the ageing population in the State.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran and Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan had said Mr. Vijayan had misled the Assembly on Tuesday.

Public Works Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyaz pushed back against the "politically motivated" attack against the Chief Minister. He termed Swapna's "discredited" allegations "old wine in a new bottle". The CPI(M) has launched a propaganda campaign to counter the false narrative.


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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 10:20:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/setback-to-ldfs-bid-to-put-gold-case-to-the-back-burner/article65583076.ece