statesman news service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 14 JUNE: With the CPI-M led LDF demanding a judicial probe into charges of links between his office and a financial fraud accused, Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy today informed the state Assembly that two staff members, allegedly involved in the matter, have been removed from their duties.
Pressurising Mr Chandy on the issue, LDF members protested and moved to the Well of the House and later walked out when their demand for a judicial probe was rejected.
Replying to a submission by CPI-M Deputy Leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Mr Chandy said gunman Salim Raj and additional personnel assistant Tonny Joppan of the Chief Minister’s Office had been removed from their duties on the basis of the interim report of the investigation by ADGP (Intelligence) T P Senkumar.
A detailed probe would be conducted by ADGP (South Zone) A Hemachandran, who was investigating the fraud case which involved the accused Saritha S Nair, Mr Chandy said.
Mr Balakrishnan said Mr Chandy should resign and face a judicial probe in the light of a new revelation by government chief whip P C George that he had already informed the chief minister about the alleged link between the woman involved in the fraud and his office staff.
Replying to the charge, Mr Chandy said Mr George had informed him about the matter on 4 June, a day after the woman involved in the case was arrested. “So it has no relevance,” he added.
The allegation linking the CM’s office with Ms Saritha Nair came to the fore after media reported the telephone calls made by the two staff members to the woman.
Saritha was arrested for allegedly cheating people on the promise that she would secure them solar energy distribution agencies using her influence within and outside the state.
An NRI businessman, Mr Baburaj, who claims to have invested Rs.1.28 crore and was offered a director post in the proposed firm, said Ms Nair even showed him a letter purported to be written by the chief minister on his letterhead, recommending investment in the project. He said she also claimed that she was very close to Mr Ariyadan Muhammed and Venugopal.
Mr Baburaj vowed that Mr Radhakrishnan had visited him along with Mr Joppen.
Another investor said Mr Radhakrishnan had told him that Ms Nair had an illicit affair with former Forest Minister Mr K B Ganesh Kumar and he (Mr Radhakrishnan) did not sever relations with her as she owed him Rs 30 crore and was waiting to extract it from her.
Mr Chandy&’s Delhi aide Mr Thomas Kuruvila, who is said to be very close to the CM&’s son Mr Chandy Oommen and Ms Nair, had made calls to her several time before her arrest. Mr Joppen had been Mr Chandy&’s PA since he became the CM for first time in 2004. He continued to serve him when Mr Chandy was the Opposition leader. This time, initially, Mr Chandy did not take Mr Joppen into his personal staff. Finally, Mr Chandy inducted him yielding to the pressure of his wife, Mrs Mariamma Oommen.
State Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, meanwhile, rejected the LDF demand for a judicial probe and said as it was a criminal case, only the investigation under the CrPC would bring the truth. “The government’s intention is to bring out the truth in the matter,” he added.