Chennithala and Satheesan can say all they want but Pinarayi is in no mood to respond

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Thiruvananthapuram: If Kerala has been waiting for a response from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the multitude of corruption and nepotism charges swirling around AI-driven surveillance cameras and K-FON project, CPM Central Committee member and former minister A K Balan seems to have provided the answer.

Balan suggested that a response to these charges from the Chief Minister at this point would be inappropriate. 

“Vigilance and Department level enquiries into the various aspects of the issue are already on. If he responds, it will be asked how the Chief Minister could give an opinion on the matter when a Vigilance probe is on. The Vigilance case will suddenly become irrelevant,” Balan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram, just as he was about to enter the three-day leadership meetings of the CPM State Secretariat. “And these people will say that the Chief Minister has intervened in the probe and call for his resignation,” he added.

Balan seemed to say that the Chief Minister was caught up in a Catch-22-like situation. “If he does not respond, it will be said he has something to hide,” Balan said. In political circles, it is said that Balan was merely playing ventriloquist Pinarayi Vijayan’s monkey. In other words, Balan had merely articulated his leader Pinarayi Vijayan’s mind.

The possibility of CPM state secretary M V Govindan providing the party’s independent stand on the issue also looks dim. It is usual for the state secretary to brief the press after the daily deliberations of the State Secretariat. 

The corruption and nepotism charges will come up for discussion during the leadership meetings on Friday and in the next two days.

Now that Balan has made Pinarayi’s mind clear, M V Govindan striking out a different path in the issue seems highly unlikely.

Balan said that the Chief Minister had forwarded a complaint against the AI cameras to the Vigilance the day he received the complaint. Further, when more allied charges cropped up, Balan said that the government tasked the General Administration Department principal secretary to conduct a probe into these. (Balan was referring to the enquiry constituted by Industries minister P Rajeeve under Industries principal secretary A P M Mohammed Hanish.)

“What is the Chief Minister supposed to tell you in the midst of these inquiries,” Balan said.

However, former Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala who met the press later in the day, sounded a tad bewildered. “Which Vigilance probe is he talking about,” he asked. “There is a Vigilance enquiry but that is against the former Transport Commissioner, Rajeevan Puthulath, on the basis of a complaint against him. This probe is not related to any of the agreements that have now been brought into question,” Chennithala said.

Chennithala also dismissed the inquiry under the Industries principal secretary. “Who wants that probe,” he said. “Even while the enquiry was ordered, the industries minister had given a clean chit to Keltron,” Chennithala said.

Without going into specifics, Balan made fun of the seemingly never-ending barrage of Opposition charges. “First let things settle. Every day they make people say certain things. If the Chief Minister is to respond to these charges on a daily basis, a separate mechanism has to be constituted in the Chief Minister’s Office to deal exclusively with this,” he said.

Balan said these were just part of a series of fake charges brought against the Chief Minister and his family over the years. “What all things they had brought against him. And were they able to prove a single charge against the Chief Minister and his family using any of the mechanisms we have,” he said.

Balan also said that Pinarayi Vijayan was also not in the habit of responding to each and every frivolous charge made against him. “Once it was said Kamala International was a company owned by his wife Kamala. The Chief Minister did not respond. Then someone wrongly identified a businessman’s palatial house as Pinarayi Vijayan’s. Did he respond? The face of E P Jayarajan’s wife was morphed into Swapna Suresh’s to show that she had attended the marriage of the Chief Minister’s daughter. He did not respond,” Balan said.

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