The CPI(M) Politburo on Monday rushed to defend Kerala state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (65), even as Kerala Governor RS Gavai received a threatening call on Sunday night saying he would be eliminated in a few days.
Earlier on Sunday, Gavai (80) had given the CBI the sanction it needed to prosecute Vijayan.
The police traced the call to Saudi Arabia, where a large number of Malayalees work. They have registered a case and increased the governor’s security.
“Vijayan does not hold any public office. Why should he resign?” a top CPI(M) source said. “The case against him is politically motivated.” He revealed the party was arranging legal defence for Vijayan
Vijayan is accused of having violated several norms while awarding a Rs 374.5 crore contract to a Canadian firm, SNC Lavalin, to renovate three hydro electric power plants in Kerala while he was power minister in 1996.
The CBI chargesheet charges Vijayan, along with eight other Kerala officials, of sealing the deal with the Canadian firm without floating a global tender, without initially informing his cabinet colleagues, without getting the contract examined by technical experts, while also ignoring the recommendations of a technical committee which had said the same work could be done by an Indian company for just Rs 100 crore.
It claims Vijayan pursued the deal relentlessly only because Lavalin promised to arrange funds of Rs 98.3 crore for a cancer hospital in North Kerala, the region Vijayan belongs to. The company, however, failed to keep its promise, provided only about Rs 9 crore. The chargesheet faults Vijayan for not having included a ‘binding clause’ in the contract which would have forced Lavalin to provide the money.
Vijayan himself remained tightlipped. “Our party general secretary Prakash Karat should be asked this question,” he told HT.
In Kerala, the CPI(M) observed a ‘Black Day’ to protest the governor’s decision.