Crisis hits Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) after ED names Bineesh Kodiyeri in Bengaluru drug scam
Two key arrests, CM’s former secretary M Sivasankar in gold smuggling and party’s secretary’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri in narcotics case, has landed Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) in a big crisis.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing Bengaluru drug racket on Friday said Bineesh Kodiyeri, Kerala CPI(M) secretary’s son, was the financier of the drug cartel and pumped in unaccounted money into the bank account of alleged drug peddler Anoop Mohammad.
Bineesh was arrested by the ED in Bengaluru on Thursday and a court later remanded him in ED custody for four days. In a statement, the central agency said Mohammad was just a ‘benami’ of Kodiyeri and he ensured fund from various sources for drug peddling.
“Our investigation found that a huge amount of unaccounted money was regularly credited to Mohammad’s account by Kodiyeri. Later proceeds from the sale were deposited in various accounts of Kodiyeri,” said the ED. Later in the remand report, the ED said Kodiyeri was drug peddler’s boss and their association existed for many years.
“The drug peddler accepted that Bineesh Kodiyeri is his boss and he did whatever he asked him to do for which he used to pay him,” it said in the report. He was charged under Section 19 (1) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
More trouble is in store for him as the Narcotics Control Bureau will move a separate plea for custodial interrogation of Kodiyeri soon, said a senior officer. He also said he’s owning properties worth several crores of rupees in Kerala and Karnataka and many ‘benamis’ deals are there to avoid detection. The ED also found that he allegedly floated many fictitious firms for money laundering and hawala transactions.
A small-time actor and cricket player, controversy was Kodiyeri’s companion but he got away due to his high connections. He was also close to many actors and businessmen and his sudden arrest is likely to ruffle many bigwigs.
His name cropped up in the case after Mohammad gave a statement to the NCB that he helped him a lot in his “business venture.” Later his name also figured prominently in the call list of the alleged peddler.
During the investigation into Kerala gold smuggling case, the ED also found that there was a close link between gold smuggling and psychedelic drug cases. The gold smuggling case came to light on July 5 after 30 kilograms of gold was seized from a consignment in the name of the United Arab Emirates consular office in Thiruvananthapuram. The drug case surfaced on August 28 after the arrest of Anoop Mohammad and two others in Bengaluru. There are also reports that the third accused in gold smuggling case, KT Ramees, was friends with Anoop Mohammad.
Two key arrests, CM’s former secretary M Sivasankar in gold smuggling and party’s secretary’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri in narcotics case, has landed Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) in a big crisis. With six months left for the assembly election, the party will have to sweat it out to convince its cadres about two cases, said political observers, adding it was the biggest crisis during Pinarayi Vijayan’s tenure.
For the second consecutive day, the state witnessed protests and rallies seeking the CM’s resignation. “It seems the government is helping gold smugglers and the party is aiding drug dealers,” said Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, hailing from the state.
“The state has never witnessed such an ugly situation. The CM’s office is a haven for smugglers and party office is a den of drug peddlers. The CM has no moral responsibility to continue in power,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
But the CPI(M) maintained that the party has no moral responsibility as Bineesh Kodiyeri was not holding any official position in the party. “You can’t blame the secretary if his son indulged in something wrong,” said party’s A Vijayaraghavan. On the back foot, the party has announced a series of explanation meetings to what it called “right-wing and media conspiracy” to portray the government in a bad light.
CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran also said arrests of both were a plot hatched by the Centre to target the government and ruling party. “The Congress president said two days ago the Centre was suing its agencies to target opposition leaders. We have no idea why the state Congress is supporting moves to sabotage the government,” he said.
But what is interesting is that after the gold smuggling case surfaced, the CM had written to the Prime Minister seeking an investigation by central agencies. After inviting them he is not in a position to blame them and the BJP reminds the CPI(M) quite often that the CM invited them.
“The party is in a big crisis in its last bastion. It can’t get away by merely blaming central agencies. The central leadership of the party is also weak in taking corrective measures,” said senior journalist and political commentator John Mary.