Governor allows prosecution of CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan (Second Lead)

June 7th, 2009 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) The Kerala governor Sunday gave the go-ahead to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan in the Rs.300 crore SNC Lavalin scam.
This is the first time a CPI-M politburo member has been accused in a multimillion rupee scam and will face prosecution. The CPI-M has said it will fight the case “politically and legally”. The Kerala secretariat of the CPI-M, which leads the state’s ruling coalition, has termed the decision politically motivated and most unfortunate.

Governor R.S. Gavai called the head of the CBI office here to his residence Sunday afternoon and handed over a 148-page report, giving his sanction to prosecute Vijayan.

Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was the state power minister in 1997.

M.K. Pandhe, CPI-M politburo member, told IANS in New Delhi: “Our party has taken a decision that it will fight the case politically and legally as we believe that it is a politically motivated case.

“Our politburo is meeting June 18 and we will have a thorough discussion on the matter,” he said.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Kerala home minister and a close aide of Vijayan, said it has to be seen if the governor has any authority to give such a sanction.

“The state government had looked into it, and there was nothing to make us believe that a sanction should be given. So we have to look into the governor’s sanction legally,” said Balakrishnan.

However, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, a bitter rival of Vijayan, preferred to keep quiet and did not react despite a battery of media personnel waiting at his residence.

The CPI-M Kerala unit, which is controlled by Vijayan, is believed to have applied pressure on the Left-ruled state government not to give sanction for the prosecution. However, Achuthanandan, a politburo member who has been at loggerheads with Vijayan, had taken a position that the party secretary should face legal prosecution.

Youth and students organisations of the CPI-M Sunday evening staged a protest march at the governor’s residence. They shouted slogans against the governor and burnt his effigy. The leadership of the Kerala CPI-M has said Monday will be observed as a black day to protest the move.

The governor’s decision was, however, welcomed by rivals.

Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy, who belongs to the Congress party, said the governor was doing his constitutional obligation and nothing else.

“This is one which will uphold our democracy and the constitution. May be the CPI-M now has a feeling of guilt,” said Chandy.

Youth Congress activists marched to the office of advocate general C.P. Sudhakara Prasad at Kochi demanding his resignation. Last month Prasad had given his legal opinion to the state government that there was no need for the government to give sanction for prosecution.

The youth wing of the Indian Union Muslim League staged a protest march in Kozhikode and demanded the immediate resignation of Vijayan from the post of state CPI-M secretary.

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