Kerala opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala wrote to Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, on the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led government’s ‘wayward functioning’ in the state.
“This primarily concerns corruption, nepotism and criminalisation of the State administration and gross deviation from the CPI(M)’s proclaimed ideology and code of conduct for party leaders holding public office,” Chennithala wrote.
Highlighting the recent gold smuggling scandal in Kerala, Chennithala alleged that it has deep links with the Kerala Chief Minister’s office.
“The Chief Minister has washed his hands off by feigning ignorance about the developments related to his office… It is indeed preposterous to suggest that the Chief Minister was unaware about what was happening in his office and the departments under his charge, given his functioning style and the functioning codes of your party,” he wrote.
Chennithala then presented a list of decisions which were “apparently hurriedly pushed through at a time when the State was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.” With this, he asked for the CPI(M)’s leaders to explain the state of affairs and even take action against the ‘erring Chief Minister’.
The letter drew attention to six issues, starting with the Sprinklr controversy which Chennithala alleged was pushed through without Cabinet approval.
“It was unilaterally taken by the then IT secretary, Sivasanker, who is now under investigation for his culpability in the gold smuggling case. The project was neither whetted by the Law Department, which was mandatory for any international agreement or contract, nor by the Finance Department for the financial implications it would have imposed. But the biggest blow was the failure of the government to safeguard data privacy in its eagerness to close the deal with the American company which had a dubious record,” he wrote.
The Opposition leader then addressed the ‘e-mobility project’, where 3000 electric buses worth Rs.4500 crores were purchased.
“The major highlight in this project is the backdoor entry of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as consultants without observing well-laid government procedures… The worst part was that the Cabinet was bypassed again. Even the Transport Minister was kept in the dark about the proposal,” he said.
He also addressed KPMG being roped in as consultant’s for the Rebuild Kerala Initiative or RKI to rebuild the flood devastated state in 2018 and 2019, which received funding from the World Bank.
“KPMG initially offered services free of cost, but retracted from this, only to appear as bidders later on for the Consultancy, something they went on to win. The RKI is a recipient of World Bank assistance. I feel the conflict of interest in this deal is obvious,” he added.
The letter also went on to accuse Pinarayi of introducing ‘Consultancy Raj’ in Kerala.
“International funding agencies such as the World Bank are calling the shots, with the government carrying out their diktats... One of main aims of the "Consultancy Raj" is to carry out backdoor recruitment, a new extension of nepotism that would dash the hopes and aspirations of lakhs of educated unemployed youths seeking government jobs,” he added.
Chennithala ended the letter demanding a response from CPI(M) top leadership and action against Pinarayi for the CM’s alleged unilateral decisions.