Pinarayi Vijayan is a troubled man these days. Kerala is seeing a spurt of fresh Covid-19 cases that have been rising on a daily basis, and on the other hand, the Kerala CM Office has already been embroiled in what could be one of the most notorious smuggling cases of this year. The opposition UDF in Kerala Assembly has been demanding his resignation and has even decided to bring a no-confidence motion against the government.
The situation is so grave that the key accused — Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair — are in custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The agency has stated in the court that Swapna and Sandeep committed forgery and created a fake seal and emblem of the UAE Embassy. But the most worrying part for Vijayan is that his Principal Secretary — M Sivasankar — who has been sent on leave currently, was the one who hired Swapna in the state Information Technology Infrastructure as an operations manager. The case gets murkier as Swapna has been seen at public events with Pinarayi Vijayan when she was working in the UAE Consulate.
Pinarayi Vijayan must resign on ethical grounds. (Photo: ANI)
The public is shocked at how 30 kg of gold was smuggled from Sharjah, UAE, as “diplomatic cargo” during a global pandemic. The gold was smuggled to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. There is a concern that if Vijayan continues as the CM, the probe will be compromised. Therefore, Vijayan must resign on ethical grounds.
Accusing the Kerala CM’s office of involvement in the case, BJP President JP Nadda said, “The colour of gold is yellow everywhere but in Kerala, it is red, red and red,” alluding to the CPI(M) party’s red-coloured flag.
Interrogation of Sarith Kumar — another accused who was formerly employed in the UAE Consulate and arrested by the Customs (Preventive) Department — has revealed that the nexus of the people involved runs much deeper between Dubai and Kerala. The opposition has accused the CM’s Office of calls to the customs office on Swapna’s behalf to stall the investigations. While Vijayan’s Principal Secretary’s hiring of Swapna in such a high-profile position has raised eyebrows, it has led to further uncomfortable questions, like why the Crime Branch case against her was ignored and the adverse report by the Intelligence against her not taken into account. Further, Vijayan has refused to suspend M Sivashankar.
The Assembly speaker is also under the scanner as he attended an event organised by the other accused —Sandeep Nair.
CPI(M) government’s reputation has been tarnished in Kerala. That a Marxist party government is embroiled in gold smuggling is evidence of CPI(M)’s hypocrisy. This is the party that advocates the rights of farmers and blue-collared workers.
In the interest of the state and a fair probe, Pinarayi Vijayan must step down.