The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPIM has alleged that the Congress bribed its legislator, R Selvaraj to get him to resign as a member of the state legislature and protect the Congress led government in Kerala.
The allegations have been leveled in the context of the upcoming Piravom by-poll on Saturday.
The poll has the potential to narrow the Congress-led UDF government’s majority to just 1 member in the state assembly.
At present, the UDF has the support of 71 members out of a total of 139, while the CPIM led left front (LDF) has the support of 68 members. If LDF wins Piravom, which was won by the late Congress MLA TM jacob last year with a majority of just 150 votes, the equation between the UDF and the LDF will come to 71:69.
In other words, a defection or resignation of just one MLA would put the government at risk.
While Congress was initially certain of winning back the Piravom seat, the latest setbacks for the party in state elections elsewhere, such as UP and Punjab, have made the ruling combine nervous.
However, with the resignation of the CPIM MLA Selvaraj, the Congress has again assured itself of a 2-seat majority even if it loses the Piravom by election on Saturday.
“Contractors linked to the Government have given money to Selvaraj.. The whole scheme was coordinated by [UDF chief whip] PC George,” VS Achuthanandan, the leader of opposition in the Assembly alleged.
Selvaraj, a CPIM functionary of several decades, resigned as the MLA for Neyyatinkara two days ago, claiming that he was dissatisfied by how the party treats him and protesting “factionalism” in the CPIM.
Investigations after his resignation revealed that Selvaraj had requested emergency fund allocations for several crores of rupees for his constituency in late February and the proposals worth at least Rs 19 crore in his constituency were approved by a special emergency intervention by the chief minister Oommen Chandy two days before his resignation.
The revelation has led credibility to allegations by CPIM that Selvaraj’s resignation was orchestrated by Congress leaders after meeting with him in a government guest house.
CPIM alleged that the Congress is repeating its history during the PV Narasimharao regime in the 1990s when it is alleged to have bribed MPs to save its minority government at the Centre.
Despite being widely expected to do well, the Congress had failed to win a decisive majority in the elections held last year, coming up with 72 seats, while the Left front won 68. Jacob’s death late last year led to considerable anxiety in the ruling alliance in Kerala — already vexed over the poor showing in the election. The poor show in recent polls in North India have only made the party more nervous.
Many political observers believe the party’s results have been affected by the allegations of scams and corruption at the Centre.
Meanwhile, Selvaraj said that he will take a decision on whether or not to join the Congress Party based on the wishes of his followers. Asked if Selvaraj will be the UDF candidate at Neyyatinkara when the time comes for new elections to fill the seat vacated by him, state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala said a decision will be taken after the Piravom polls only.