Kerala assembly Speaker rules out resignation, denies gold smuggling link
Kerala assembly Speaker P Sivaramakrishnan on Thursday rejected allegations of his alleged links with the main accused in the gold smuggling case and said since his hands are clean he has no plan to resign.
He acknowledged that knew Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the in the smuggling case, but only as an employee of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate and he was not aware of her past or other dealings. He denied the opposition charges that he made several trips to the west Asian countries with her. He said he had cleared the air when the case cropped up four months ago and it was unfair to rake it up again.
“I never made any trip with her and or met her abroad. It is a fact that I knew her as an employee of the consulate and attended some functions after being invited by her. Those who see negativity everywhere will suspect wrong even in a handshake or a pat,” he said at a press conference.
The opposition had pilloried him citing an old video in which the Speaker was seen patting Suuresh after a function.
When the Customs busted the gold smuggling racket in July, Suresh was working as a consultant with the designation of a Special Officer in the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited.
He said he was ready for any probe and would be happy to share details which he knew with any agency. But he conceded that he failed in understanding the background of the accused and should have kept enough distance. He said it was not proper to attack constitutional bodies on the basis of mere hearsay and speculation. He said once he came to know about her background he never contacted her.
The opposition Congress and BJP had raised serious allegations against him earlier. BJP state president K Surendran had alleged that he made several foreign trips with Suresh and he was aware of her activities and helped her on several occasions.
The Congress also alleged kickbacks in the assembly modification contract awarded to a labour co-operative society, which is reportedly close to the ruling CPI(M). Speculation is rife that in the confessional statement given by Swapna Suresh under section 164 of the CrPC she had mentioned names of four VIPs. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Speaker’s explanation was not satisfactory.
The ruling CPI (M) has criticised the opposition for denigrating a constitutional post based on mere hearsay.
“Both BJP and Congress have the same tone and tenor in Kerala. They are not even sparing the Speaker who is above politics,” said the party’s acting secretary A Vijayaraghavan.