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Opp blasts Kerala CM on gold smuggling case

Stages walkout in Assembly as Speaker rejects their demand for discussion

Statesman News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |

The Congress-led UDF Opposition on Wednesday lashed out at Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the controversial gold smuggling case and staged a walkout in the Assembly as their demand for discussion over the issue was rejected by the Speaker.

The chief minister, however, replied to the Opposition in the zero hour, saying his hands were “clean”. He said he cannot be cowed down by flimsy allegations and that it was not the PR agencies that made him the Pinarayi Vijayan of today. Calling himself a ‘special genus’, the CM said he did not bow down before anyone even when there were attempts to break his spinal cord.

Responding to this, leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked whether it was the quality of this special genus to lead the state after being miserably failed to control his office.

Soon after the question hour, the UDF demanded Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan to stop the House proceedings and discuss the gold smuggling case in view of the “serious situation” as Vijayan’s former principal secretary M Sivasankar was arrested and his additional private secretary, C M Raveendran, came under the shadow of suspicion in the case.

Attacking Vijayan, the Opposition said it was for the first time in the state’s history that the chief minister’s office had come under suspicion over a crime like gold smuggling and so many Central agencies investigating allegations against it simultaneously.

They alleged that the gold smuggling case accused had misused the CMO for fraud and so the chief minister could not escape from its responsibility. Claiming that the Left government had demanded a probe into the gold smuggling case, Vijayan, however, said the thought that he would be put behind bars in the case would end up as a ‘day-dream’ of the Opposition.

Despite the efforts by all investigating agencies, no evidence could be brought against the state government so far, he said.

“The Central agencies have politicised the matter which they are dealing with. That’s why we have informed the Centre about this. As a state government, it is our responsibility,” Vijayan said.

Defending Raveendran, who was recently quizzed by the Enforcement Directorate, he said his additional private secretary was asked to appear for questioning not in connection with the gold smuggling case. “It was only to clarify certain matters on the basis of certain complaints,” Vijayan said.

He also denied a charge that some of his relatives were questioned by Central agencies. Irked over the question by Congress legislator, P T Thomas that whether gold smuggling case key accused Swapna Suresh had visited his official residence on the day before his daughter’s marriage, a fuming Vijayan said the function was held in the sprawling hall at the Cliff House and she had not attended it.

~With inputs from PTI~