After ousted chief vigilance commissioner PJ Thomas, it could be the turn of Kerala’s opposition leader Oommen Chandy to slip on a two decades-old palm oil import scandal.
A special vigilance court on Monday ordered fresh probe into allegations of impropriety in the 1992 import of palm oil to Kerala after then state food minister TH Mustafa claimed last month that Chandy — who had cleared the deal as state finance minister a year earlier — had been easily let off.
The prosecution, which was seeking permission to investigate the case further, also told the court it has gathered fresh evidence that needs to be verified.
If Chandy, who is currently a witness in the case, is now made an accused, he may have to sit out next month’s assembly elections in Kerala.
The chief ministerial candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) said the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) needs to explain why his name was not mentioned in the case in the last 20 years.
“It is an election stunt,” Chandy said. “I’ll take a decision after consulting the party high command.”
The Congress party has already burnt its fingers in the oil case, after Thomas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s choice as the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog, was forced to resign earlier this month.
The Supreme Court had quashed his appointment as he was an accused in the case as the then state food secretary.
State Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala is likely to lead the Congress in the April 13 assembly elections if Chandy is made an accused.
“I always tried to uphold high values in public life.”
“They couldn’t make me an accused in 20 years,” Chandy added.