Cong slams LDF govt for booking their leaders; divert charges against CM

Kochi:┬áIrked over the cases lodged against its senior leaders, including the KPCC president, the Congress in Kerala on Tuesday accused the ruling CPI(M) and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of trying to ‘divert attention’ from the various allegations against him and intimidate the opposition by such moves.

Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan said the probe against Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief K Sudhakaran in a cheating case involving controversial antique dealer Monson Mavunkal was a “deliberate attempt” to divert attention from the various criminal allegations against the CM Vijayan.

“The case against the KPCC president is a false one. It was lodged after fabricating evidence and intimidating witnesses to give false evidence. For that the officer properly investigating the case was replaced with one who was close to the ruling Left,” Satheesan alleged while speaking to reporters here.

He said that a few days ago a case was initiated against him and contended that “the CM probably thinks we will be scared by such tactics”.

“In which world is he living? Does he think such cases would intimidate us or silence us from opposing or criticising the government or him? Law will follow its due course and we will face the case against the KPCC president both politically and legally,” the LoP said.

Lashing out at the Kerala CM, Satheesan contended that Vijayan was actually supposed to be in jail in the gold smuggling through diplomatic bag and Life Mission cases.

“He escaped that fate by entering into a compromise with the BJP and the Sangh Parivar,” he alleged.

Satheesan said that even Mavunkal has said that if the case was investigated properly, some top police officials and even some close aides of the CM would be jailed.

Mavunkal, who is presently in judicial custody, made the statement before reporters while being taken away by police after he appeared before the Additional District and Sessions Court in Ernakulam.

While being led away by police, he also said that Sudhakaran had no role in the case.

On the other hand, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan claimed that the case and probe against Sudhakaran was initiated as per law and would proceed accordingly.

He denied the Congress allegations that it was vendetta politics and that the Left party intervened in the case.

Satheesan, however, said that there were double standards in the implementation of law in the state and that the Kerala police has lost its credibility.

Referring to the case of a woman — Vidya K Maniyanodi — who allegedly furnished a forged experience certificate to secure a guest faculty post in the Maharajas College here, the LoP said that she was being protected by the CPI(M) and its student wing SFI and that is why police are yet to arrest her.

“This state of affairs shows that Kerala police is acting according to the will of its political masters and that its standards have declined. Good, competent and credible officers have been sidelined and replaced with those who would not shy away from going to any extent.” he alleged.

Earlier in the day, Sudhakaran said he had no role in the cheating case against Mavunkal and accused the CPI (M)-led Left government of trying to “scare” opposition leaders by registering cases against them.

The KPCC president said he would not appear before the probe team on Wednesday, as sought by the Crime Branch, as he had to attend a party programme in Kozhikode.

He had also claimed that there was no doubt that there was a political conspiracy behind the case against him.

Sudhakaran was served a notice under CrPC Section 41 A on Friday, seeking his appearance before the crime branch team probing the case here on June 14.

The crime branch decided to interrogate the KPCC president on the basis of a statement by complainants, who lost their money in the cheating case, claiming they had handed over money to Mavunkal in the presence of Sudhakaran.

Earlier, the agency had submitted an additional report before the court here, arraigning Sudhakaran as an accused in the case.

When the allegations cropped up against him two years ago, Sudhakaran denied them.

The issue had snowballed into a political controversy as images of Mavunkal, along with Sudhakaran, emerged.

Sudhakaran had said he had gone to Mavunkal’s residence for treatment, as the latter claimed to be a trained cosmetologist.

Mavunkal had allegedly made false representations about himself and his business to various people and collected money from them. Many images of Mavunkal with senior police officers and bureaucrats of the state have surfaced.

Cherthala native Mavunkal, who claims to be in possession of rare and historic antiques, was arrested by the Crime Branch in September 2021.

He is facing charges of having swindled Rs 10 crore from several people.

The Crime Branch move against Sudhakaran comes three days after the CPI(M)-led LDF government ordered a vigilance probe against Satheesan.

That case is related to receipt of foreign funds from abroad, for a project in Satheesan’s constituency, which allegedly violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).