Appearing before the media after a gap of 137 days, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday, February 9, defended his former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar, who was jailed in connection with the sensational gold smuggling case. The CM took potshots at the media over senior bureaucrat M Sivasankar's recent book on his experience as an accused in the gold smuggling case by saying some people felt offended after reading the narrative in the book about their role in the case.
"Sivasankar's book tells his experience from you (media). Sivasankar has spoken about what he had to face from the media. Let him say that," the Chief Minister said responding to questions on the book. Talking to reporters, he said Sivasankar has written certain things amounting to create resentment among those who targeted him. "One is about the media and the other is about investigative agencies," Vijayan said, adding whether the media and central agencies had done consultations during investigation into the gold-smuggling can be said later.
He also said he agreed with journalist Sashi Kumar, who had criticised the media and accused them of giving a platform to Swapna Suresh to whitewash herself. "I wish to agree with what he (Sashi Kumar) said. The book is critical of the way media and various national agencies viewed that case. And it's quite natural you (media) are upset with that. The victims of his writings are upset and it is not quite natural that they will not hit back," said Vijayan.
According to excerpts from the book titled 'Ashwathamavu Verum Oru Aana' (Ashwathama is just an elephant), Sivasankar claimed he had made no illegal intervention in the gold-smuggling and never made any undue favour for Swapna Suresh, the prime accused, in the case. He also added that he never knew the iPhone that was gifted to him by her was part of a bribe.
Countering Sivasankar, Swapna Suresh told the media that it was he who had â€˜destroyed her lifeâ€™ and everything that she was in knowledge of, he also knew. She also said that it was Sivasankar and others who helped her travel to Bengaluru in July 2020, soon after the gold smuggling case surfaced. She added that her audio clips which had come out at the time giving a clean chit to CM Vijayan, â€˜was also done according to Sivasankarâ€™s scriptâ€™.
To repeated questions if the government gave permission to Sivasankar to write the book, the Kerala CM said that he will look into it.
Sivasankar mentioned in the book the charge that there was pressure on the investigating agencies to drag the Chief Minister into the case and that he was arrested to make a statement against Vijayan.
Sivasankar, who was the former principal secretary to Vijayan and former IT Secretary, was suspended from service after his links with Suresh had surfaced.
He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs in the cases relating to the gold-smuggling through diplomatic channel, money trail and dollar smuggling. His suspension was revoked recently.
In response to tweaking of the Lokayukta Act, the CM said that some of the sections here are not there in any other state, moreover, the Lokpal Bill also is now in force.
"We got a legal opinion on this and we went ahead with it," said Vijayan and when it was pointed out that the second biggest ally of his Left Front, the CPI, has expressed its displeasure on the tweak, he said unless he talks with them, he will be unable to say anything on it.
With PTI inputs
Read: Kerala gold smuggling case: Sivasankarâ€™s new book kicks off war of words with Swapna