THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said the governor’s nod to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute party leader Pinarayi Vijayan in the Rs.300 crore (Rs.3 billion) SNC Lavalin scam was “not surprising”. This comes as a departure from his party stance on the issue.
When asked about his opinion on Governor R.S. Gavai’s decision, Achuthanandan said: “don’t you know that there have been several instances in the past where governors have taken such a stand”.
“The governor’s decision is not surprising,” the chief minister told reporters after a cabinet meeting here.
He clarified that no discussions were held on the issue at the cabinet meet.
“It was decided that all the ministers should get time to study the issue and we have decided to take this up at the next cabinet meeting,” Achuthanandan said.
Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai had Sunday called the head of the CBI office here to his residence 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.
This is the first time a CPI-M politburo member has been accused in a multi-million rupee scam and will face prosecution.
Achuthanandan’s remarks contradict the stand taken by the CPI-M that has termed the governor’s decision as “unfortunate” and said it would fight the case “both politically and legally”.
In fact, state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had Tuesday termed Gavai’s decision as “arbitrary” and flouting the basic rules of democracy.
Vijayan and Achuthanandan are known rivals and their relationship has been going from bad to worse ever since the latter was given the nod to contest assembly polls in 2006, after first being denied a seat. He then took over the reins of the LDF government.
Vijayan, by virtue of a brute majority in 84-member state committee and 15-member secretariat, has made many attempts to unseat Achuthanandan.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) convenor P.P. Thankachen, meanwhile, welcomed Achuthanandan’s remarks.
“His analysis of the situation and the manner in which he made his views is the correct decision. We welcome his statement,” he said.
–Indo Asian News Service