Sudhakaran offers to quit as KPCC president; Congress rejects

Kochi: A day after he was arrested in a cheating case by the Crime Branch wing of Kerala Police, K Sudhakaran on Saturday offered to quit as KPCC chief if necessary even as the Congress leadership rejected the suggestion saying it would extend him all political and legal support to fight the case.

The Kannur strongman of the party was arrested by the Crime Branch in a cheating case in which the prime accused is controversial antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, and later released on bail here on Friday night.

Sudhakaran expressed his willingness to step down when reporters asked about it here today morning. “I am ready to stay away if necessary. I will not stand for anything that will harm the party,” he said.

The Congress leader also reiterated that he would face the probe and had no fear in the investigation as he is totally innocent in the case.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan, who met the media here later, made it clear that Sudhakaran would not be removed from the top position and the party would extend him all political and legal support to take on the case.

Rejecting reports by a section of media that Sudhakaran would step down as KPCC chief in the wake of the developments, Satheesan also said the party had not had any such discussions so far.

Sudhakaran is not alone but the democratic believers of Kerala would stand with him unitedly to fight the fake case registered against him, he said.

“The Congress party and the UDF are united on the matter and we will stand strong with Sudhakaran. The Congress workers in Kerala will protect him even at the cost of their life,” Satheesan further said.

The party had not thought about removing him from the position and even if Sudhakaran was ready to step down, the leadership would not allow him to do the same, the LoP added.

Not just Sudhakaran, several top police officials had also gone to Mavunkal’s residence, the Congress leader pointed out.

If going to his house was a crime, how many police officers should be booked over their visits there, he asked.

The senior leader further said the government could not intimidate the opposition by registering cases and the Congress-led UDF would go ahead with a series of agitations to expose the corruption of the CPI(M)-led LDF government.

The KPCC would organise protest marches to the district police headquarters across the state on July 4, Satheesan added.

However, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan on Saturday rejected the opposition party’s allegation that Sudhakaran’s arrest was politically motivated and said there was strong evidence against him in the cheating case.

The people of the state won’t believe their propaganda that the case was politically motivated, he said.

“The investigating officers have made it clear that there are evidences against the KPCC chief,” he told reporters in Delhi.

Govindan said he was hopeful that an effective investigation would continue in the cheating case whoever be the accused.

Sudhakaran was arrested on Friday after several hours of questioning by the Crime Branch.

Following the arrest, the national leadership of Congress came down heavily on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. They said he, just like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has a “fascist attitude” of imprisoning those critical of his government.

Later in the night, Congress and Youth Congress workers came out on the streets in various parts of the state and blocked roads in protest against Sudhakaran’s arrest.

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday, while asking Sudhakaran to appear before the Crime Branch on June 23, had said that in the event he is arrested in the cheating case, he shall be released on bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount.

It had also directed the KPCC chief to cooperate with the investigation and not to attempt to intimidate or influence witnesses in the case.