On Saturday, the Congress urged the national leadership of the CPI-M to ask Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to resign and order a CBI probe to look into the transfer of data on coronavirus suspects to a US-based PR and marketing firm Sprinklr.
According to the reports, senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who is also the leader of the opposition had first raised the irregularities in storing the data related to coronavirus patients.
Later, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy accused Pinarayai Vijayan government of indulging in a data scam by pointing out that this data transfer had no clearance from any state government department, the Kerala cabinet or the Centre.
While addressing the media on Saturday, state Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran asked Vijayan to quit and the CPI-M politburo to come clean.
“We are all waiting to hear what they (CPI-M) have to say on this blatant data scam. Only a CBI probe would bring out the truth, as this is a monstrous data scam and a bigger one that SNC Lavalin, the case where Vijayan is linked to and is now before the apex court,” said Ramachandran.
He further said that everyone wanted to know as to who brought the Sprinklr company to India and if it had any connections in Bengaluru.
Sprinklr company and the Kerala data scam
Senior Congress legislator PT Thomas also expressed concerns whether the sudden disappearance of the website of Vijayan’s daughter’s IT firm based in Bengaluru was connected to the Sprinklr data scam.
Meanwhile, a petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court over the decision to hand over the data to Sprinklr.
The petition filed by lawyer Balu Gopalakrishnan accuses Pinarayi Vijayan-government of indulging in a scam by engaging with a foreign-based private company for storing and analyzing coronavirus patients data. The petitioner also questioned the decision to entrust the job with a foreign company, ignoring Indian firms like the C-DIT and NIC.
Free access to data of coronavirus patients
The crux of the problem is the state government’s use of Sprinklr software free of charge until September. The petitioner states that data of citizens were collected without their informed consent. According to the petitioner, more than 1.5 lakh sensitive medical information of the coronavirus patients are with the company.
The Congress also charged against the state government’s collaboration with Sprinklr, whose founder, Ragy Thomas, is suspiciously from Mavelikkara in Alappuzha district.
Contract awarded in violation of rules
Amid the controversy, Kerala IT secretary claimed that he had selected Sprinklr for COVID-19 survey using his discrepancy powers, but now it has come to light that the official has no right to select a company. “The government has decided to have a technological platform to collect details. Hence, while taking the contract of Sprinklr it was assured that the service is free of cost and there are no security issues. The selection of the platform and signing the contract files related to it were my responsibilities,” said the IT secretary.
But as per rules of business, no official is entitled with any discretionary power to grant a contract to any company. Moreover, it is also revealed that rules of business, which prescribes the duties of the Law Department, were violated to select the company.