The CPI-M mouthpiece Desabhimani has got yet another dose of negative publicity, this time over the fact that a leading lottery agent is heavily funding it. Earlier in the week, deputy general manager of the newspaper, GK Venugopal, was expelled for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1 crore from a financial institution to hush up a case against it.
, a leading vernacular daily, front-paged the CPM newspaper's deposit receipts. On Friday, the newspaper admitted taking Rs 2 crore from controversial lottery dealer S Martin. It called it a legal way to raise money. However, the CPM said they were not mere deposits but bonds to raise money for the newspaper's development activities.
Incidentally, the state government is fighting a case against lottery companies in the Supreme Court.
The Opposition walked out of the assembly on the issue. "The paper issued bonds for Rs 3.2 crore. Of this, S Martin, who is currently absconding, purchased bonds worth Rs 2 crore. The party has to explain," Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said. The Congress now plans to take the matter up with the Reserve Bank
Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan was silent on the issue, leaving it to Finance Minister Thomas Issac to do the talking. Most of the top officials of the newspaper belong to the camp of his rival, state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.
In the assembly, CPM legislator P Jayarajan called
a "yellow daily", inviting sharp reactions from the Opposition. The chief minister immediately intervened, saying the newspaper played a key role in the Independence movement. Later Jayarajan reiterated his charges.
When in the opposition, the CPM had accused the then UDF government of being soft on the online lottery industry.