In an embarrassment to the Centre, the Kerala government on Thursday leaked a letter that had been sent to the UPA in 2008 mentioning PJ Thomas's involvement in a vigilance case in the state.
This comes two days after Prithviraj Chavan - who was MoS in the department of personnel and training when Thomas was appointed CVC - passed the buck to the state for giving vigilance clearance to Thomas.
In the 2008 letter, the state had made it clear that Thomas could not be considered for a central deputation as there was a case pending against him. Thomas is the eighth accused in the palm oil scam.
"Thomas, state chief secretary, had applied for central deputation in 1988, but was not selected... In 1992 he had expressed his willingness...but not considered because of a vigilance case...," said the letter.
"This case has not been finalised yet. I may inform that PJ Thomas could not work at the Centre as he was not recommended for the same by the state government," said the letter signed by O Babu, joint secretary, on March 11 2008.
Reacting to the letter, Chavan said he had been misquoted by Kerala CM VS Achuthanandan. "All I had said was that Thomas was appointed the Kerala chief secretary by the state government. The Prime Minister has made everything clear in his statement in Parliament. I have nothing more to add."
Asked why Thomas was empanelled as a secretary in the Central government despite a chargesheet against him, Chavan said: "That question needs to be answered.... You must ask the people who are involved in the process."
Earlier in the day, Chavan, who is now Maharashtra CM, rushed to meet party president Sonia Gandhi. Congress leaders maintained that the meeting was regarding Chavan's election to the legislative council.
In Chennai, ADMK chief J Jayalalithaa also joined the issue, charging the DMK with pushing Thomas's appointment.
"The appointment that invited embarrassing strictures from the Supreme Court was at the behest of the DMK leadership. And the poor Congress cadres in the state have to go around, from door to door, canvassing votes for the very people who have been the cause for so much embarrassment to them and their leaders," Jayalalithaa said.