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Kerala's ruling Left front meet skips discussion on Lavalin scam

india Updated: Jan 31, 2009 19:01 IST
Kerala's ruling Left front meet skips discussion on Lavalin scam

A liaison committee meeting of Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) held here Saturday skipped discussion on charges against Pinarayi Vijayan of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in a 12-year-old graft case involving Canadian company SNC Lavalin.

Replying to reporters' query, LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan said the topic was not discussed in the meeting.

"Who does not know that this is a baseless case and a false campaign? I am a CPI-M member; the leadership of my party has already made its stand on this issue clear. So the question of discussing this did not arise," said Viswan.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last week named Vijayan, state secretary of the CPI-M, the main ruling party, as an accused.

While three CPI-M ministers have defended Vijayan, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has refused to comment, saying he was studying the issue.

Viswan said the three ministers were right but Achuthanandan, as chief minister, might have needed more time.

The LDF liaison committee is the highest decision-making body of the state's ruling coalition.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had found irregularities in the state's contract with SNC Lavalin for the renovation and modernisation of the Pallivassal, Chengulam and Panniyar hydroelectric projects in Idukki district.

The contract was awarded in 1997 when Vijayan was electricity minister.

The Kerala High Court in January 2007 ordered a probe by CBI, which last week had filed a charge sheet naming Vijayan as ninth accused.

He is the only politician in the list of accused; others are government officials and one Canadian national.

Reacting to Viswan's comments, state Congress president Ramesh Chennithala told IANS: "The LDF has not even discussed this issue. They have cheated the people of Kerala."