THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Congress went hard at the LDF government in the gold smuggling case by staging protests and unleashing a barrage of allegations on Tuesday. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s move to remove M Sivasankar from the post of his secretary was just an eyewash after he feared that the probe might lead to him.While Chennithala sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a CBI probe into the case, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran demanded the case be re-registered under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) and the chief minister arraigned under it.
Addressing the media, Chennithala said despite the Opposition coming up with a slew of corruption allegations against Sivasankar ranging from the Sprinklr deal and BevQ app contract to e-mobility project, Pinarayi had rallied behind his secretary. “Now a stage has come where Sivasankar has become the hub of all criminal activities with the latest being the gold smuggling case. Now, the CM has become scared that the probe would lead to him and remove him. On Monday, the CM said some people were trying to link his office to all allegations. Whenever the Opposition raises an allegation, he retorts that we are demoralising the officials,” said Chennithala.
In the letter to the prime minister, Chennithala highlighted the misuse of the UAE Consulate’s diplomatic immunity by international gold smuggling cartels with the collusion of officials in the CMO. He also pointed out Swapna Suresh’s appointment in the IT department disregarding reports of the police’s Special Branch (intelligence) and when a Crime Branch investigation is on against her.Demanding a COFEPOSA case be registered, Mullappally, who is a former union minister of state for home, recalled that under the Act, the probe has to be completed within five to 15 days.
He maintained that only a CBI probe can bring out the whole truth and demanded Swapna, who is on the run, be arrested immediately.“The gold smuggling case has strained India’s relationship with the UAE. Who got the gold? Where did it go? How many top officials are involved? Gold worth how many crores of rupees had reached Kerala? How much did the CPM and officials get as commission? Answers to all these questions should be provided. The role of Swapna’s daughter as a SFI leader should be also be brought out,” said Mullappally.