CM should explain Swapna’s influence on govt.: Chennithala

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday said the recent averments of the Enforcement Directorate probing the money laundering angle in the UAE-consulate linked gold smuggling case in the Economic Offences Court in Kochi was a damning indictment of the dubious role of the Chief Minister’s Office in the multi-faceted international scam.

Mr. Chennithala said the agency had told the court that the accused in the case wielded outsize influence on the State government. It said, if granted bail, the accused could destroy evidence, sway witnesses, and use their political power to sabotage the investigation.

He said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan could not absolve himself of criminal liability in the gold smuggling case. The ED had revealed that Swapna Suresh, the second accused, was part of Mr. Vijayan’s official delegation to the UAE.

“Mr. Vijayan owed the public an explanation. He has to clarify in which capacity the gold smuggler had transacted business on behalf of the government. He could not shrug of responsibility by scapegoating his former Principal Secretary M. Sivasankar,” he said.

Mr. Chennithala said Swapna had told the court that she had received ₹1 crore in commission for procuring UAE aid via Red Crescent for the government’s Life Mission project. The government had allowed gold smugglers to earn a commission for the State flagship programme to provide housing for the poor.

The government had rendered the higher education sector headless, he said adding that 90% of colleges had no Principal at the helm. Underqualified proxies had replaced Principals. Moreover, the government had moved to appoint 380 new college teachers via an opaque and corrupt online selection process.

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