TVM: The LDF government and the CPIM as also the Kannur lobby in the party are in the dock as a new media expose on Saturday said the central Enforcement Directorate is looking into a tip off that two CPIM ministers have purchased 200 acres of land in Maharashtra’s coastal Dodamarg taluk in hilly Sindhudurg district under benami names, and a Kannur man acted as a front.
The report front-paged by Kerala Kaumudi as its lead said a retired IAS officer from the state government facilitated the land deal. He also got 50 acres of land as gratification, the report said.
The report said the ED got information that one minister kept the land records in his wife’s locker. This may be broken into by ED sleuths as part of the investigations.
Meanwhile, another report said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan woke up now – he has been late in several such matters, for unexplained reasons — to give his nod to Vigilance department to investigate a case of bribe-taking by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala during the UDF rule from the bar association — a sum of Rs one crore, which he allegedly took at the Congress Bhavan. When the allegation first came up during the fag end of the UDF rule, Chennithala dismissed the allegation in a casual manner by saying, “athinte receipt kodithittondu” – meaning it was a donation for the party. The KPCC leadership was aghast that any such money ever came to the party. A Congress leader sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi, saying these were what happened in Kerala state party, the coffers of which remained empty always.
Another individual against whom Vigilance investigation vis-à-vis bribe-taking from bar association, as revealed by its functionary Dr Biju Ramesh and others too, is former health minister VS Sivakumar, who was brought into politics by K Karunakaran to draw in Nair support for the UDF in Neyyattinkara and other regions. He is said to have been on a roll during his term as health minister, and ended up reportedly having a medical college for himself. Ramesh Chennithala also has major interests in a medical college in Tamil Nadu that was set up over 20 years ago. As per allegations, Sivakumar took Rs 25 lakh from the bar association, which was delivered at his home.
Notably, there were recent revelations from knowledgeable sources that the family of a top Congress leader from Kerala who functioned as Union minister owns hundreds of acres of estates in Theni Kambam region in benami names. He is known in public for long as a whiter than Lilly flower and hailed from an ordinary family.
Both the UDF and LDF leaders are largely into corrupt practices as these two fronts are alternating in power in the state for long. Central ministers used to make money in Delhi as well, as per allegations. This is not confined to Kerala alone.
Kerala’s Communist leaders generally had a fair image though there were instances like the Canada-based SNC-Lavlin power equipment firm in the past, the commission for which was pocketed mostly by the party itself as per inside sources. The Kodiyeri Balakrishnan family is now in the focus over the huge amassment of wealth by his son Bineesh Kodiyeri even via alleged foul means like drug trafficking. The final word from the investigating agencies about probes into his sources of wealth is yet to be known, though. For now, things are mostly in the realm of suspicion, one might argue.
The BJP, which never enjoyed power in Kerala, is also not having a clean image in the state if allegations against some of its leaders like Kummanam Rajasekharan and MT Ramesh etc are of any indication. Kummanam’s opposition to the Aranmula Airport Project was partly guided by his vested interests, it had been alleged. He is a bachelor and does not have a family to care for, but even then such allegations crop up against him too. There was also a police case recently by a young entrepreneur, who complained that he was fleeced of millions in a deal in which Kummanam had encouraged him to participate. The matter was solved later by high-level intervention and the money returned. Kummanam’s secretary was directly involved in the deal, as per reports.
At local levels too, BJP leaders have been taking “protection money” from sand extraction mafia, quarry contractors etc as is done by politicians of the CPI, CPIM, Congress and other shaded. As a result, the prices of sand and rock for building constructions have been doubled or trebled in recent years. Contractors would adjust the bribes they paid to politicians into the prices of the material they supply. Environment protection is a name of the game for politicians to make big money. The society as a whole suffers by having to spend through their nose to construct even a small house.
As a result, politics being engaged into by semi-literate and half-educated loudmouths is now turning out to be the best money-making enterprise. Several small-time parties exist and survive only to go on fund collection drives.
Compared to the UDF periods’ outright loot of the exchequer and public money, feelings are still strong that the present LDF government led by Pinarayi Vijayan has been much less corrupt and the CM never encouraged the practice of bribe-taking in connection with several major projects he spearheaded. Even in the gold smuggling case too, despite best efforts by the Opposition and the central investigation agencies like the ED, they have not been able so far to nail the CM with any corruption charge or out-of-the-way actions. EI-NN