Thursday, November 14, 2013
"LAVALIN CASE: COURT HOLDS PINARAYI INNOCENT" - N S Sajith
IN a historic judgement which may have a snowball effect on the politics of Kerala, the CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram deleted on November 5, 2013 the name of CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan from the chargesheet in the infamous SNC Lavalin case.
While this was an inevitable culmination of the SNC Lavalin controversy in Kerala, it also was one of the many sordid episodes of UDF leaders raking up controversies and hatching conspiracies against the CPI(M) in collusion with an influential section of the mass media in the state.
The controversy arose from the alleged remarks contained in a paragraph of the accountant’s general’s the confidential inspection report. This so called report was selectively leaked to the media in a bid to show that CPI(M) leaders, and particularly its state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan who was electricity minister during 1996-99, have been involved in corrupt deals.
But thrashing a high voltage slander campaign, the court excluded six persons from the case. Apart from Pinarayi, former principal secretary of power K Mohana Chandran, former joint secretary A Francis, former KSEB chairman P A Sidhartha Menon, K G Rajasekhar and R Sivadasan were also excluded from the chargesheet by special CBI judge R Raghu. The court observed that the charge had many flaws and were not sustainable. The prosecution has failed to prove the so called conspiracy, the court said.
Pinarayi had filed a petition for his exclusion from the chargesheet on the ground that Lavalin company had not benefited from the agreement he had signed. Pinarayi was made an accused just before the notification of 2006 assembly elections on the basis of the CBI’s observations. During a hearing of the case on October 11, the prosecution miserably failed to answer the court’s queries.
PINARAYI’S FIRM CONVICTION
At a press conference held at Thiruvananthapuram on the same day, Pinarayi Vijayan reacted by saying that he was happy he had come out of a period of witch-hunt. While interacting with the media an hour after the historic judgement, he expressed heartfelt gratitude to the communist movement and to all those who firmly stood with him in extreme trust while he was made to face a multi-pronged attack.
Through a handout circulated in the press conference, Pinarayi said he was able to withstand the enemy’s pressure with the belief that there is no need to worry if one is innocent. He cited five factors which helped him face the turmoil: (1) steadfast conviction in his unflawed action, (2) resolute support extended by lakhs of people who love and trust him and his party, (3) the conviction that a communist would not get a smooth pathway, (4) strong support from his party which knew him and his background, and (5) the belief that truth ultimately triumphs, come what may.
Many people believed that the case could be dragged indefinitely so that they could keep on attacking the party, but Pinarayi said he had no bitterness against anyone who sought to defame him in order to defame his party. This harassment was natural in case of a party whose many comrades lost their valuable lives for the cause of the people. Pinarayi also recalled how the earlier stalwarts also faced severe and fake allegations from the opponents. P Krishnapillai was termed Themmadikkoottathinte thalavan (leader of scoundrels) and Azheekodan Raghavan was termed Azhimathikodan (Azhimathi means corruption). Pinarayi said he was proud that he received no applause from anti- communists.
The CPI(M) leader said many people motivated him to bravely face the crucial situation. He expressed his unbounded gratitude to such eminent personalities as Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Prof M K Sanu, and late Advocates Kelu Nambiar and G Janardana Kurup. Iyer once categorically stated that the CBI had been misused to tarnish the personal image of Pinarayi’s and to run a slander campaign. Many personalities like late Dr Sukumar Azhikode came forward against the UDF’s move to use CBI for political vendetta.
Pinaray referred to Oommen Chandy’s decision to hand over the case to the CBI as the state vigilance had failed to frame him in the SNC Lavalin case. KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala once said he did not believe Pinarayi Vijayan was a culprit, and former PCC president K Muralidharan once stated that to rake up this case was nothing but diverting the attention of the people.
CULTURE OF POLITICAL VENDETTA MUST GO
On this occasion the CPI(M) leader put forward two points as his opinions: (1) an investigation apparatus should not be used for political vendetta, and (2) the political culture which entangles the persons who give priority to the country’s interests and take initiative for development should change. Saying that such a culture is no good for the state, Pinarayi asked whether anyone would dare take initiative for the development of the state if the threat of a case hovers over her or him. This culture would not help the people and lead to non-development.
Pinarayi Vijayan also said now that the investigating agency has admitted that he did not make any benefit out of the SNC Lavalin deal and the CBI court has acquitted him, Oommen Chandy and his team must realise that a case used wrongly for political feuds would not get any victory ultimately. Mainstream media in Kerala too must introspect on what they did in the course of the case. They alleged that the cash made out of the agreement was deposited in a company named Kamala International in Singapore. They went to the extent of saying that the company belongs to Kamala, the wife of Pinarayi. The government of India wrote a letter to the Singapore government to find out the whereabouts of the so called Kamala International. It sent someone to Singapore too. After these inquiries, the government then informed the court that no such company existed in that country. Yet some newspapers wrote that he had made crores out of the agreement, even though the CBI, the Income Tax Department and Directorate of Enforcement had concluded that the CPI(M) leader had made no money out of the deal.
As for Pinarayi’s query regarding the former principal secretary Varadachari in a file and the involvement of a firm called Technicalia, the investigations showed that he had not made any query about Varadachari in the file related to KSEB and that Technicalia was invited by M V Raghavan, who was minister in the previous UDF cabinet, for a medical college in Pariyaram. Another allegation made against Pinarayi was that he had brought some files to the AKG Centre and scorched them. However, every file was found from the Secretariat. Some newspapers talked of there being some middlemen in the deal and one paper even presented a man who claimed he had witnessed the handing over of money, further claiming that a huge amount of money was withdrawn from a bank on a particular day. These allegations too were proved to be fake and the CBI said so in the court. However, sadly, newspapers never withdraw these kinds of stories even when they are proved false. They printed such stories simply because they had had a political agenda. The CPI(M) leader, however, made it firmly clear that all newspapers did not do so.