Embarrassed CPI-M leadership keeps mum over corruption case

January 22nd, 2009 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The embarrassed top leadership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is keeping silent on the high profile Kerala state secretary and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan’s reported involvement in the SNC-Lavlin case, one of the biggest scams in the history of the state.Vijayan’s name reportedly figures on the chargesheet finalised by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Kerala Home Minister and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Wednesday that the CBI has sought permission to prosecute Vijayan.

“I’m not interested now (to comment on the CBI chargesheet). I have nothing to say about this,” party general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here.

This is for the first time in the history of the CPI-M one of its politburo members is ‘involved’ in a scam.

The CBI has also sought state governor’s sanction to prosecute 11 accused, including a former electricity minister, in the Rs.110 crore (Rs.1.1 billion) scam.

Reports indicated that Vijayan may be the electricity minister to be prosecuted.

The chargesheet accuses a former minister and 10 others, including some officials, of receiving kickbacks for allotting a contract to a Canadian firm in 1997.

The charges are expected to be filed in the Kerala High Court after the CBI gets the nod from the state governor.

Vijayan was the electricity minister in 1997, when contract to Canada-based SNC Lavlin was awarded for the renovation and modernization of the Pallivassal, Chengulam and Panniyar hydro-electric projects in Idukki district.

Meanwhile, Balakrishnan came out openly to defend Vijayan.

Addressing a public meeting in Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday, Balakrishnan alleged that the Congress was using CBI to political purposes.

“The Congress-led government at the centre revived the case to gain political score in the Lok Sabha elections. This is a revengeful act by Congress for withdrawing our support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government,” he said.

“The Congress is trying to drag Pinarayi Vijayan’s name into the case,” he said.

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