Thiruvananthapuram | In a jolt to Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, a court today ordered registration of an FIR against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Power Minister Arayadan Mohammed in the solar scam, sparking fresh demands by opposition CPI-M for their resignation.
Chandy, a senior Congress leader, on his part said he was prepared to face any probe. Both of us are ready to face any probe. Our strength is we have not done any wrong, Chandy, who is facing the heat in the solar scam following prime accused Saritha S Nair’s deposition before the Commission probing the case, told reporters at Malappuram and Kozhikode.
Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance), Thrissur, who ordered the vigilance director to register an FIR against Chandy and Arayadan and six others in the case, observed that everyone was equal before law, be it a village man or a chief minister.
Judge S S Vassan in the order stated that he was not making any comments on the merits of the case.
I have to bear in mind Article 14 of the Constitution. Be it a village man or the chief minister, law is equal to all public servants. Therefore the complaint is forwarded to Director VACB (Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau) for investigation under sect 156(3) CrPC, the judge said. A report has to be submitted by April 11, the next hearing of the case, the judge said.
Alleging that the charges against him were part of a ‘political conspiracy’ against him by a section of bar owners and CPI-M, Chandy said he was ready to face any probe.
I have not done anything wrong. My conscience is clear on that….., he said, adding, he would soon hold talks with coalition partners of the UDF.
Saritha had alleged yesterday that she had paid bribes to the tune of Rs 1.90 crore to a close aide of Chandy and Rs 40 lakh to the power minister. Chandy and Arayadan have denied the allegations. Coming out in support of Chandy, AICC fully backed him saying there was no need at this stage for Chandy to resign.
AICC chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surejwala said in New Delhi that Congress is of the opinion that there is no need for Oommen Chandy to resign at this stage.
Chandy has said more than once that they are ready for any kind of enquiry….We will seek appropriate legal remedies, he told reporters at Delhi.
Slamming Chandy, CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan said Chandy had no moral right to continue while party state secretary, Kodieryi Balakrishnan, said the opposition will launch massive agitations to oust him.
Chandy said he had deposed before the Justice Sivarajan commission probing the solar scam for 14 hours on June 25 and had answered all queries. But counsel for Saritha had not asked him anything and had kept mum throughout, Chandy said at Kozhikode.
An effigy of the chief minister was also burnt in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvanathapuram. Meanwhile, Saritha, who deposed before the Solar commission for the second day today, alleged that Chandy had telephoned her mother to influence her for not revealing facts related to the scam while she was lodged in jail in 2013. Today’s developments is expected to see a stormy budget session when the session begins on February 5.
Chandy, who is holding the Finance portfolio after the resignation of K M Mani in the bar case, is scheduled to present the state budget on February 12.
The opposition LDF had disrupted Mani’s budget presentation on March 13 last year as his name had figured in the bar scam.
Reacting to the developments, KPCC President V M Sudheeran said the bribery allegations against Chandy and Arayadan were part of a political conspiracy. Assembly polls in Kerala are barely a few months away.
Talking to reporters at Kottayam, he alleged that CPI-M and some others in the LDF coalition were part of the conspiracy. State Home minister, Ramesh Chennithala, said some vested interests and those who had opposed the government’s liqour policy were behind the allegations.
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