In a major setback to the Communist-led Kerala government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR in a special court in Ernakulam in connection with the financial irregularities in the Pinarayi Vijayan’s flagship ‘Life Mission’ project.
According to the reports, the CBI registered a case of Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act violation in the Kerala government’s ‘Life Mission’ housing project for the poor and homeless people. The CBI also carried out searches at two locations in Kochi belonging to Santhosh Eapan of Unitac Builders, which won the contract of the project.
The allegation against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government is that the ‘Life Mission’ project was funded by an international agency named Red Crescent without informing the central government thus violating the FCRA norms.
The Kerala government had also stated that it had not sought the permission of the Union government before accepting funds from the UAE-based organisation for building apartment complexes under the project.
Red Crescent, a United Arab Emirates-based NGO affiliated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Interestingly, Swapna Suresh, who is the kingpin in the Kerala gold smuggling scam has also agreed that she had got a commission in the deal between Red Crescent and Unitac builders.
The ‘Life Mission’ project corruption case has snowballed into a big political controversy in Kerala after Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala had alleged that Swapna Suresh had received one crore as commission from the project. He had demanded a CBI enquiry into the case.
CPI-M opposes CBI enquiry, says BJP using central agencies to intervene in Kerala
Following the CBI investigation into the alleged irregularities in the ‘Life Mission’ Project, the CPI(M) on Saturday alleged that the BJP was using central agencies to “intervene in Kerala politics”.
The CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan asserted that his party will resist any move by BJP to intervene in Kerala politics using central agencies.
“The decision of the Centre to hand over the probe into the ‘Life Mission’ Project to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is politically motivated and unusual. BJP had sabotaged governments in Congress-ruled states using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Congress had opposed CBI strongly,” Balakrishnan said speaking to the media.
Opposing the CBI enquiry to the alleged scam, Balakrishnan further said, “Mamata Banerjee has ordered the CBI not to probe cases in Bengal. When Chandrababu Naidu became the Chief Minister, he denied the power to CBI to investigate in Andhra Pradesh. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress chief minister had taken a stand against CBI.”
“In Rajasthan too, the Congress chief minister himself took a stand against the CBI. It was decided not to take up any case,” he added.
The left-wing leader also accused the Congress party of taking an opposing stand in Kerala in comparison to its opposition to CBI intervention into cases in other states where they are in power.
“That Congress is now demanding CBI probe in Kerala on the ‘Life Mission’ Project. If the intention is to overthrow the Kerala government through this, the people of Kerala will be able to oppose the move legally and politically. There will be many more interventions. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) can survive that and move forward. A political campaign will be organised for it. The aim of BJP and Congress is to sabotage LDF,” Kodiyeri said.
NIA investigates Kerala gold scam
The CBI enquiry into the ‘Life Mission Project’ comes amidst the ongoing NIA investigation into gold scam in the state that has caused a major political setback for the Communist Party in Kerala. Several high-profile officers linked to Kerala CMO have been alleged to have played a role in the Kerala gold scam.
A close nexus between Pinarayi Vijayan-led government and Kerala gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh was recently unearthed during the NIA investigations into the gold scam. The NIA had confirmed to the court that prime accused Swapna Suresh had close links with CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.
Last month the call details of Swapna Suresh had also revealed that the accused was in regular touch with Kerala’s Higher Education minister KT Jaleel.