The Kerala assembly proceedings were again disrupted on Tuesday following an Enforcement Directorate (ED) remand report, containing certain allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the Life Mission case being read out in the House by the opposition UDF.
The remand report was read out by Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan during discussion of the adjournment notice moved by him regarding the Life Mission case in which the Chief Minister’s former principal secretary, M Sivasankar, was facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The ED is investigating the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act in the Life Mission, a flagship housing project of the Left government.
Mr Kuzhalnadan contended that according to the report, Mr Sivasankar told the central agency that there was a meeting between him, the Chief Minister, the UAE consul general and Swapna Suresh — an accused in the gold smuggling through diplomatic bags case.
He further contended that as per the report, Mr Sivasankar has said that he briefed the Mr Vijayan after Ms Suresh was appointed to the post of Operations Manager in the Space Park project under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd.
Mr Kuzhalnadan asked, in the House, whether the Chief Minister can deny these allegations in the report to which Mr Vijayan responded by categorically denying that anything as read out by the legislator ever happened.
To this, the Congress MLA questioned why the Chief Minister was not moving the court against such a wrong remand report and Mr Vijayan responded that he does not need legal advice from Mr Kuzhalnadan regarding steps to take.
During the questions posed by the Congress MLA to the Chief Minister and after Mr Vijayan’s reply, several ruling front lawmakers left their seats and created an uproar in the House by trying to shout down Mr Kuzhalnadan.
State Law Minister P Rajeeve initially said Kuzhalnadan should table in the House the contents of the document he was reading from and later contended that a remand report being considered by a court cannot be discussed in the assembly.
Mr Kuzhalnadan, thereafter, said he was willing to table the remand report and sought permission of the Chair to do so.
However, the shouting match between the opposition and ruling front MLAs continued and Speaker A N Shamseer was forced to briefly adjourn the House.
The assembly proceedings were disrupted on Monday too following heated exchanges between the ruling Left front and the opposition UDF on an adjournment motion by the latter to discuss the alleged police brutality recently against youth wing workers of the Congress and IUML.
The CBI had in 2020 filed an FIR in a Kochi court under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) on a complaint by the then Wadakkanchery Congress MLA Anil Akkara listing Santosh Eappen, Managing Director of Unitac Builder, Kochi as the first accused and Sane Ventures as the second accused.
The two companies had undertaken the construction based on the agreement entered with them by Red Crescent, an international humanitarian movement, which had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore towards the Life Mission project.
The Congress has been alleging that there was corruption involved in the selection of the contractor by Red Crescent.
The alleged FCRA violation and corruption in the project had snowballed into a major political issue at that time with opposition parties charging that Swapna Suresh had admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission from the project. She had reportedly claimed that the money was meant for Mr Sivasankar.
However, the Life Mission CEO had submitted before the Kochi court that Unitac and Sane Ventures had undertaken the construction based on the agreement entered into with them by Red Crescent and had directly accepted foreign contributions from Red Crescent, which is a foreign agency.
The CEO has also contended that the companies which signed an agreement with the Red Crescent do not come under the categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution as per Section 3 of FCRA.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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