The CPI(M), which leads the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the state, has mooted to withdraw the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the state. The suggestion was made at a recent meeting of the CPI(M) state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. The proposal has been welcomed by LDF’s major ally CPI, whose chief Kanam Rajendran said no one was against a probe by any central agency, "but using them as a tool for political gains and to create a smokescreen till the upcoming elections, was not right."
However, the opposition parties in Kerala have slammed the CPI(M), alleging that the state government is trying to ‘hide corruption.’
BJP leader and Union Minister V Muraleedharan told the media that the CBI probe into the corruption allegation in the Life Mission project has forced the Kerala government to take a stand against the agency. He also alleged that the move was to hide the 'rampant corruption' of the Left government.
“Pinarayi government is trying all possible means to cover corruption by prohibiting CBI,” Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala posted on Facebook. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Mullappally Ramachandran also told the media that the state government was 'afraid' of a CBI probe. "The Kerala government is afraid of the CBI. They should make it clear whether they have the same stance with regard to the CBI at the national level too," he told reporters.
However, the ruling CPI(M) has questioned Congress’s criticism of the LDF, saying that it is a contradiction as Congress-ruled states have already adopted this strategy. The governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have withdrawn the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The consent is akin to a blanket nod for the agency to probe scheduled offences specified in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSE) Act, 1946. The CBI also lacks a general consent from Mizoram.
Speaking to the media, CPI(M) leader and Minister for Law AK Balan, slammed the Congress. "The CPI(M) suggested to move in that direction and a similar opinion was expressed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too," he told reporters.
Rahul Gandhi, during his recent visit to his Lok Sabha constituency in Wayanad, had said that central agencies like CBI and Enforcement Directorate are being used by the Union government for political gains. Though this was said in response to a question reportedly on ED’s probe against Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, the CPI(M) leaders have taken this also as a tool to cite Congress party’s contradiction in the state.
Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government concerned under Section 6 of the DPSE Act, the law that governs the agency's functioning.
On October 13, the Kerala High Court had stayed for two months the CBI probe against the state government into alleged irregularities, including of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act violation in Life Mission, state’s housing project for the poor.
The opposition has alleged that there was corruption in the selection of the contractor by Red Crescent, an international humanitarian organisation and that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, had admitted before an NIA court to having received Rs one crore as commission from the project.
Life Mission had submitted before the court that the two companies which had signed an agreement with Red Crescent do not come under categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution under an act of the FCRA.
(With PTI inputs)