Wedge lines appear in Kerala CM-Vigilance chief's 'incorruptible' tie-up

Now only time will tell whether the latest twist to the Pinarayi-Jacob bonhomie will wreak havoc to the otherwise predictable fairy-tale ending to their bromance.
Wedge lines appear in Kerala CM-Vigilance chief's 'incorruptible' tie-up
Wedge lines appear in Kerala CM-Vigilance chief's 'incorruptible' tie-up
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Dr. Jacob Thomas -Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) Director and state IPS rebel boy- had always been Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s blue-eyed boy till the other day.

But on Friday, a report against Jacob that was submitted by state Chief Secretary SM Vijayanand last December found its way from the CM’s office to the Director General of Prosecution for purported advice.

Cashing in on Jacob’s no-nonsense approach and anti-corruption reputation, Pinarayi had himself brought in Jacob to ensure that the VACB did not function as a ‘caged parrot’. 

The move was supposed to enable Jacob to take on the corrupt forces in the state, irrespective of political or bureaucratic clout.

The said report was prepared by the state Finance Department headed by Additional Chief Secretary KM Abraham and had suggested Jacob’s removal from the post of VACB Director. The reason being, Jacob has caused a huge financial loss to the state exchequer, when serving as state Ports Director, a few years ago.

Jacob Thomas had taken charge of the state Vigilance in June 2016, exactly a year after he was stripped of his appointment at VACB by the previous UDF regime, for his bold stand in the bar bribery case against then state Finance Minister K M Mani.

On resuming his duty at the VACB, Jacob had set about taking action against a few IAS officers, and also played a key role in the nepotism row that cost Left veteran EP Jayarajan his  minister-ship.

Despite tremendous pressure from all sides, Pinarayi refused to cave in to persistent demands for Jacob’s ouster. In October 2016, Jacob did offer to resign, as several top bureaucrats as well as fellow-IPS officers were baying for his blood.

The resignation letter was sent in the backdrop of reports that the Kerala Public Expenditure and Review Committee (KPERC) was all set to initiate departmental proceedings against him, for alleged irregularities during his tenure as Ports Director from September 2009 to March 2014.

Pinarayi refused to accept Jacob’s offer, saying that the LDF government was satisfied with the officer’s explanation in this regard.

But what the Chief Minister did not see coming was the Vigilance’s indictment of Kerala Sports Council president TP Dasan –a proven Pinarayi loyalist- in the sports lottery corruption fiasco.

The VACB report that was filed a couple of days ago mentions the absence of official documents or records of transactions worth crores of rupees in the name of sports lottery.

How Dasan had made it to the much favoured post, immediately after well-known Olympian Anju Bobby George had submitted her resignation, is no secret…..apparently playing piggy-back on the tacit support he enjoyed as a Pinarayi aide.

To make things worse, the VACB had also ordered an enquiry against state Fisheries and Cashews Minister J Mercykutty over allegations of misuse of office, for permitting a government firm to buy poor-quality cashews at inflated prices, rejecting far more reasonable bids.

If this was not enough, the Vigilance court in Thiruvananthapuram had ordered the VACB to file a Quick Verification Report on allegations against state Devaswom and Power Minister Kadakampally Surendran, in connection with the appointment of the Director of the Agency for Non Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT).

Hence it is no surprise that within a day of the said report being filed in court, Pinarayi sought legal advice on the recommendation for a probe into a contract issued during Jacob’s earlier tenure at the state Ports Department.

With Jacob ruthlessly targeting senior bureaucrats in the state, not many in the civil service are actually batting for him at this juncture. Unannounced searches at the residences of Additional Chief Secretaries KM Abraham and Tom Jose did not help matters either.

The IAS officers in the state even went to the extent of going on mass leave alleging deliberate vendetta on Jacob’s part.

Now only time will tell whether the latest twist to the Pinarayi-Jacob bonhomie will wreak havoc to the otherwise predictable fairy-tale ending to their bromance.

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