By Sanu George
All eyes are on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the CPI (M) to see how they use the judicial commission report on the solar energy investment fraud in which former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's office was allegedly involved.
The report of the Solar Judicial Commission, headed by Justice (Retd) G Sivarajan, has criticised the manner in which Chandy's office was involved in helping out a fraudulent couple amass money by cheating innocent investors to the tune of Rs 70 million in the guise of supplying solar panels.
The couple -- Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan -- was arrested. While Nair is out on bail, Radhakrishnan is still in custody after it came to light that he murdered his first wife.
After the scam surfaced in 2013, Chandy threw out three of his staff members when it was found that they had frequent contacts with Saritha Nair.
Vijayan and his office was presented the report -- that runs into four volumes -- by Sivarajan on Tuesday. The Chief Minister's office has begun an in-depth study of the report.
For the CPI (M) and Vijayan, Chandy is the most formidable political leader whose popularity has not waned, despite the UDF's defeat in the 2016 assembly polls. The ruling Left Democratic Front is likely to try and leverage the report for political gains.
One of the four volumes of the Solar Judicial Commission report is on the role of Chandy's office when he was at the helm. Among the numerous frauds the couple perpetrated, one case pertains to a rich businessman with Congress connections, who was duped.
According to those in the know of things, Vijayan and his close aides in order to keep Chandy under check, are likely to order a re-investigation into the case.
While Saritha Nair has claimed that she met Chandy in his office, he has denied such a meeting. Reopening of this case could give sleepless nights to Chandy.
But Chandy is unfazed and as always continues to say that he is confident because he has done no wrong in the solar scam.
With a crucial CPI (M) committee meeting to be held in Thiruvananthapuram in the coming days, a game plan on how to checkmate Chandy and keep him on tenterhooks is most likely to emerge.
For Vijayan, it could be a way to get even with Chandy who at his last cabinet meeting as Chief Minister before the 2006 assembly elections, had decided to hand over the SNC Lavalin case to the CBI. Vijayan was made the seventh accused in the SNC Lavalin case as he was Electricity Minister when the deal was struck two decades ago.
After a long and protracted legal battle, the Kerala High Court last month gave Vijayan a clean chit in the case.
(Views expressed are personal.)