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Court orders FIR against Kerala CM Oommen Chandy; Sonia Gandhi seeks report

chandyA vigilance special court in Kerala hearing the solar scam has ordered that a first information report (FIR) be lodged against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and another minister Aryadan Muhammad.

The direction came after an explosive revelation by Saritha Nair, accused in the scam, that she paid Rs 1.9 cr to persons to be passed on to the Chief Minister, and another Rs 40 lakhs to Aryadan Muhammad.

According to media reports, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has sought a report on the turn of events from the local party leadership.

The allegations and court proceedings have come at a particularly bad time for the party as state elections are scheduled for April.

Chandy and Muhammad are the third and fourth ministers to be forced to undergo criminal investigation on the courts’ directions.

Earlier, excise minister K Babu and finance minister KM Mani were forced to resign in another corruption case after the court ordered the vigilance department to conduct proper investigations into allegations of corruption.

While Mani and Babu are accused of taking money from bar and hotel owners for renewing their licenses or other administrative and policy decisions, the solar scam revolves around Sarita Nair, a flamboyant entrepreneur who claims to have dealt with many ministers and political leaders in advancing a solar equipment business.

The present order came in a vigilance case filed by a social worker named PD Joseph in Thrissur.

Joseph had based his petition on Saritha Nair’s statement to the media that she had paid bribes to these ministers.

“The law is the same for everyone, whether it is the PM or the CM,” the court said today.

Chandy, on his part, has denied the allegations by Nair and termed it a political conspiracy to dampen Congress Party’s clean image ahead of Kerala state elections.

Chandy has said that a bar owners’ association is behind the allegations. The Congress government had banned bars in the state, which has caused losses amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees to their owners.

Sarita also said that government leaders or their proxies have approached her trying to get her to tone down her allegations. Nair first made the allegations over a year ago, but revealed only certain aspects and promised to reveal more at a later stage.

She said she redacted a 30-page letter detailing her allegations against government leaders to 3 pages on the suggestions of government leaders.

The government is learnt to be readying a petition seeking a stay on the Vigilance court order.

CM TO RESIGN?

Opposition leader VS Achyuthanandan said the Chief Minister must resign from his position as other ministers against whom FIRs have been ordered by the court have stepped down.

Achyuthanandan said the allegations reminded him of an accomplished pickpocket who targets other pickpockets.

MLA RESIGNS

Adding to the government’s woes, Kovoor Kunjumon, an MLA from Kunnathur, resigned after making scathing allegations against the ruling United Democratic Front.

Kunjumon is part of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which used to be in the Left Front, but joined the Congress-led front recently. He said he could no longer continue to support the UDF, and said he considers himself a Leftist.

He called on his party to rejoin the Left Alliance.

The LDF, meanwhile, is heavily favored to come back to power next year. It recently put up a strong showing in local body elections in Kerala.

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