Millennium Post

Chandy sinks in his own mire

The confrontationist clouds scudding across Kerala’s political sky have thickened further with both the United Democratic Front (UDF) government and the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) refusing to relent from their positions on the unfolding solar scam.

Tensions have escalated with the Opposition deciding to continue their agitation until the chief minister resigns and the beleaguered CM refusing to oblige them. The position of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is in the eye of the storm, has become untenable with fresh disclosures in the scam in which a large number of people have been cheated of lakhs by the accused, Biju Radhakrishnan and his wife, Saritha Nair, who have been taken into custody. The husband-wife team, who ran a company called Team Solar, had duped the investors of lakhs by promising to install solar panels at their houses, offices and premises.

A jubilant opposition, now in possession of a potent weapon to rattle the chief minister, has pulled out all stops in an effort to secure his resignation. Such is the heat generated on the issue that the ruling party and opposition MLAs almost came to blows in the state assembly the other day. The LDF has further upped the ante by meeting the state governor and submitting a memorandum seeking the CM’s ouster and a judicial enquiry into the scam. The government’s woes have deepened as Chandy has not been able to convincingly answer a number of questions related to the scam. The more he tries to defend himself, the more he is sinking into the mire. Just two instances will illustrate the point.

For instance, while making a statement in the state assembly after the scam erupted, the CM had concealed the fact that he had a meeting with the prime accused, Biju Radhakrishnan. Later, when a pro-left TV channel disclosed the details, he admitted having met him and discussed a family matter details of which he won’t disclose! He also said that when he met Radhakrishnan, the latter was not a wanted criminal. Facts tell a different tale. Reports have it that Radhakrishnan was already involved in as many as 10 cases when he met Chandy. Most important, Chandy has no convincing answer to this question: why should a CM have an hour-long meeting with a wanted criminal when he does not have time to meet even ruling party MLAs for five minutes? Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan is on record that on this ground alone, Chandy must quit.

But the CM is stubbornly sticking to his position, saying that he has already removed a personal assistant and a gunman for having links and telephone calls with one of the accused, Saritha Nair, and that a police probe has been ordered into the issue! Meanwhile, the police say that Biju has confessed to having strangled his first wife to death!

Again, the CM denied having met Saritha in New Delhi. But his own aide in the Capital, Thomas Kuruvila, has said that Saritha did meet him at the high-security Vigyan Bhavan where the CM had gone to attend a conference! Chandy’s attempt to counter the LDF attacks by saying that Saritha Nair had maintained links with a few CPI(M) leaders as well when the LDF was in power, came a cropper as both Achuthanandan and deputy leader of the opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan offered to face a judicial enquiry into the matter. Although the UDF leaders are trying to brazen it out, the growing public perception is that the CM is not coming clean on his meeting with the wanted criminal. In the process, the government has lost even the last shreds of its already tattered
credibility. IPA

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