No confidence motion against Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan-led govt defeated in assembly
The Kerala legislative assembly on Monday defeated the no-confidence motion moved by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) against the Pinarayi Vijayan government brought in the backdrop of the sensational gold smuggling case. This is the first no-trust motion against the government which has completed four years and four months in office.
The motion moved by senior Congress leader V D Satheesan was defeated by 47 votes, while 87 legislators opposed it 40 supported it. The house witnessed turbulent scenes during the day-long discussion and the CM took three and a half hours to reply to the barrage of charges.
While the UDF listed a number of allegations including the recent gold smuggling case, the alleged commission in the Life Mission project and the ‘gift’ higher education minister KT Jaleel received from the consulate of the United Arab Emirates, the LDF denied all charges saying the opposition was worried over the growing popularity of the government.
The debate turned noisy at regular intervals as members of both camps traded charges against each other. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said never in the history of the state had three central agencies frequented the state secretariat and there are reports more agencies will be roped in to probe the gold smuggling case.
A week after the seizure of 30 kg gold from a consignment in the UAE consulate in the state capital, the CM was forced to suspend his powerful private secretary M Sivasankar, a senior IAS officer. But the opposition said the CM was trying to get away by sacrificing his secretary and he knew about main accused Swapna Suresh and her alleged deals.
Besides smuggling, during investigation, many alleged irregularities also cropped up. The Enforcement Directorate found that Suresh had accepted Rs four crore commission in the Life Mission project. It is a Rs 20 crore project intended to build free apartments for the flood-affected with the help of the UAE-based charity organization Red Crescent.
The ED and NIA had also started an investigation against minister KT Jaleel who reportedly accepted some fund and 4000 kg ‘gift’ from the consulate in March. Though the minister pleaded that these consignments were holy books the opposition alleged that some of the packets contained smuggled gold. Even if the minister’s version was right, he can’t get away from the foreign exchange management act, experts said.
But the CM said central agencies were deployed after he wrote to the Prime Minister and the government was not worried over the probe. He asked the opposition to wait till the probe was over. He also took a dig at the principal opposition party Congress saying most of its leaders are in a race to join the BJP. He said with mere allegations nobody can browbeat his government which has managed the Covid-19 pandemic successfully and brought in many new programs for the poor.