Monday, February 16, 2009

Kerala leaders take pot shots at each other

Feb 16/2009
Thiruvananthapuram: Less than 24 hours of the CPM politburo ordering a ceasefire in Kerala, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and the tainted party secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan, have flung veiled digs at each other, indicating that their fight is far from over.

When reporters caught up with him at Kerala House yesterday morning, Achuthanandan recalled three major corruption cases in which he had taken leaders of the Congress-led United Democratic Front to the court, announcing that his anti-corruption battles were far from over.

“You have seen my consistent fight against corruption for the past several decades…the campaign that I initiated and I still carry on… “, was how Achuthanandan prefaced his impromptu press conference.

Achuthanandan cited cases involving former Power Ministers R Balakrishna Pillai and C V Padmarajan in the Idamalayar and Brahmapuram power projects and former Chief Minister K Karunakaran in the palmoil case. Pillai fainted in the High Court during sentencing. However, he got a stay from the Supreme Court but following expert advice that the stay did not bar further litigation, Achuthanandan was still pursuing it.

The initial graft in the Brahmapuram diesel plant case against Padmarajan was only Rs250m but the Nambiar Enquiry Commission later found that the State’s loss was about Rs1.25bn.

The case against Karunakaran in the palmoil scam had been on for 18 years. “From all this, you know that I’ve been continuing this battle against corruption for decades. And I will continue to do so”, said Achuthanandan.

With the Politburo gag on him against going public, Achuthanandan did not refer to the raging Lavalin controversy. Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to join in, saying Achuthanandan’s anti-corruption campaign was not a solitary effort but a party-initiated programme. He was addressing a Press conference in Kochi as part of the Kerala yatra.

“You seem to think it’s been a one-man campaign by VS against corruption. All (previous) corruption cases taken up by him in courts were decided by the party. It was all part of the party’s campaign.”

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