After gold smuggling, Congress targets Vijayan over Life Mission project
Thiruvananthapuram, August 10, 2020
Already under a cloud in the gold smuggling case, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday came under fire from the Congress over his pet Life Mission project.
Speaking to the media here, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked Vijayan to come clean on the Rs 20 crore received from the Emirates-based Red Crescent for the Life Mission project of the state government under which homes are built for the weaker sections of society.
"The prime accused in the gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh has now gone on record to say that she got Rs one crore as commission for getting this project cleared. It must be noted that four days before Vijayan visited the UAE, both Swapna and his now ousted Principal Secretary and IT secretary M. Sivasankar had reached the UAE," said Chennithala.
"Vijayan should tell if a MoU for the funds from Red Crescent was signed, if so when, where and who were there. He should also say if Swapna was there," said Chennithala.
"It was surprising to hear Vijayan saying that the matter ended in the gold smuggling case with the ouster and suspension of Sivasankar. Now in this new revelation of Swapna getting paid Rs one crore as commission, it has also come out that Red Crescent is part of the Red Cross and I have checked that the local unit here has no knowledge of this. Vijayan has to now come clean on it. Everybody wishes to know if the Ministry of External Affairs knew about this. He has to break his silence on it. That's why we have been demanding that only a CBI probe will reveal everything," said Chennithala.
Chennithala also slammed Vijayan for his outbursts against the opposition and the media.
"It was unbecoming of Vijayan to speak badly about Oommen Chandy. Can anyone make any comparison between the two. All know how Chandy behaved and how Vijayan is now behaving. And of late Vijayan is attacking the media and even his press secretary is doing the same, which is not acceptable," added Chennithala.
"We will not be sitting idle, we will strengthen our protests against Vijayan and all wish to know what happened to the probe conducted against the Chandy government's decision. Four years have been completed and nothing has been found and we will not take threats lying down," said Chennithala.
Chennithala's outburst came at a time when a NIA court at Kochi denied bail to Swapna Suresh.
The gold smuggling case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the customs department on July 5 when he was facilitating smuggling of 30 kg of gold in the diplomatic baggage to Thiruvananthapuram from Dubai.
It turned murkier when the name of Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here and employed with the IT Department, surfaced and her links with powerful IAS official M. Sivasankar, who held the post of Principal Secretary to Vijayan and was also the IT secretary, were revealed.