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Corruption net closes on Kerala CPM boss

Disregarding the advice of both the Kerala cabinet and the state advocate general, Governor RS Gavai (80) on Sunday gave his sanction to the CBI to prosecute CPI(M) state general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (65) for irregularities committed while awarding a major contract when he was state power minister, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2009 02:08 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times

Disregarding the advice of both the Kerala cabinet and the state advocate general, Governor RS Gavai (80) on Sunday gave his sanction to the CBI to prosecute CPI(M) state general secretary Pinarayi Vijayan (65) for irregularities committed while awarding a major contract when he was state power minister.

Prem Kumar, additional superintendent of police, CBI, who is in charge of the case, confirmed that he had received a report from the governor giving his sanction.

Vijayan is a member of the CPI(M)’s Politburo. This is the first time a Politburo member is being investigated in a corruption case.

The case pertains to the awarding of a Rs 374.5-crore contract to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin to renovate three hydro electric projects in Kerala — at Panniyanr, Chenkulam and Pallivasal, in 1996.

In 2006, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report found serious irregularities in the deal. It noted that Lavalin, as part of the contract, had agreed to provide Rs 98.3 crore to set up a cancer centre in North Kerala, but had provided only Rs 9 crore.

The rival UDF government, then in power, handed over the case to the CBI.

Though chief minister VS Achuthanandan and Vijayan are bitter political rivals, and Achutanandan had publicly revealed himself in favour of allowing the prosecution, his own party comrades, both in New Delhi and in the state, refused to back him.

In February, the state cabinet passed a resolution urging the governor not to sanction prosecution.

The state advocate general, CP Sudhakara Prasad, too gave the same view.

“The governor has acted in a most partisan manner,” said EP Jayarajan, CPI(M) leader and central committee member.

“We have to find out whether the governor has the power to overrule the recommendation of an elected government,” said K. Balakrishnan, state home minister. “We will approach the court soon for a decision.”The student and youth wings of the CPI(M) organised a protest march to the Raj Bhavan in the evening, and burnt Gavai’s effigy. It will observe a ‘Black Day’ across the state on Monday.

First Published: Jun 08, 2009 02:05 IST