Thiruvananthapuram: Finally, after close to two months, the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala on Wednesday decided to order a Vigilance probe into the ‘Life Mission’ project.
For Vijayan, the Life Mission project has been a pet one ever since he assumed office in 2016. It was floated to build houses for the homeless and landless using funds from sponsorships, and the role of the state government was to provide the land only.
The project, however, ran into trouble when Anil Akkara — the Congress Legislator from Wadakkanchery in Thrissur — first raised questions about the wrong doings in a building project in his constituency, which was cleared with funds from a UAE based charity organisation — the Red Crescent.
Vijayan all along, since Akkara raised this case, has been defending that the state government apart from handing over the land, had no role in the project.
But, after the now infamous Kerala gold smuggling surfaced with prime accused Swapna Suresh being arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru in July, following recovery of Rs one crore from one of her lockers, things started to change. Suspicions were also raised after Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of the powerful CPI-M state secretary was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate –whether there was more than what was being heard in the case.
This particular project was routed through the UAE Consulate, here, where Swapna and another arrested — P. S.Sarith both worked. It turned murkier, when news surfaced that the son of state Industries Minister E. P.Jayarajan was also close to Swapna.
Vijayan, for the past one month has been beating around the bush whenever the media put questions about the Life Mission project. He even vented out his ire at a woman journalist representing the Congress backed TV channel — ‘Jaihind’, when she asked why he was not handing over the documents of the Life Mission to Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, despite several requests from him.
Speaking to the media, Akkara said it was he who had first raised this fraud and he approached Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan seeking justice.
“Vijayan has been silent for long and despite repeated requests from the Congress side for a probe, I first approached the Governor. Then, I wrote to the CBI and today Vijayan has ordered a Vigilance probe because it’s now come to light that the CBI is all set to probe this case. There is no point in the Vigilance probe, as it is headed by Vijayan himself,” said Akkara.
Presently the Customs, NIA, ED and the Income Tax are probing the gold smuggling, drug and the Life Mission case. But, since in the Life Mission project funds have come from the UAE, the appropriate agency to probe that is the CBI and in all likelihood, it will also be roped in, thus leaving Vijayan in a tight spot.
Vijayan’s powerful secretary and top IAS official M. Sivasankar and Vijayan’s IT key person Arun Balachandran, have all been removed from their posts for their closeness to Swapna.
Already state BJP president K.Surendran has demanded a probe into the dealings of Vijayan’s daughter — Veena Vijayan.
The coming days for Vijayan are crucial, as NIA has started another round of questioning of Swapna and is expected to counter her with all the digital evidence which they have recovered from her WhatsApp and Telegram accounts.
Both the Congress and the BJP are up in arms and for the past eight days they are out in the streets demanding the resignation of Vijayan.