As the Enforcement Directorate zeroed in on not one but two people connected closely with Kerala Chief Minister’s office, Opposition parties have taken to the streets demanding the CM’s resignation. On Wednesday night, ED finally arrested CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar on Money Laundering charges. The very next day, the agency arrested CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri under similar charges in the Bengaluru drug case.
Addressing the ED arrests, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala emphasised his earlier views that the CM’s office is the epicentre of these criminal activities. “There are many more in the CM’s office that have helped Swapna Suresh, and the investigation will lead to them. The real culprit is Pinarayi Vijayan and investigation must lead to him as well,” Chennithala said, addressing media persons.
With these two back-to-back arrests, the situation has turned grim for the Left government. One of the arrested is a formal Principal Secretary in the CM’s office with high-level access and unfettered privilege around the CM's office. The other is the party secretary’s son, who enjoyed access to the CM's office as well. Criticising the CM, Chennithala added, “How can the CM say that he had no part in such criminal offences which happened in connection with his office? When the principal secretary says that the CM had no part in the crimes originating from his office, either the latter is incapable of ruling or he is aware of everything.” The senior Congress leader was talking in the context of the various scams — Sprinklr, e-mobility, IT appointments — that have shocked the public over the last few months.
The Opposition Leader noted that the CM was trying to protect Sivasankar. “We had been demanding Sivasankar’s removal ever since the Sprinklr issues emerged. The Principal Secretary had decided to sign the deal without referring it to senior officers, law department, or the cabinet,” he said. Even the CPI (M)’s LDF ally CPI had requested via letter and in-person to remove Sivasankar, but to no avail. The CM decided to remove Sivasankaran only after the gold smuggling case began to pick up pace and the severity of the offences were revealed to the public. “This proves how close Sivasankar was to the CM,” the Opposition Leader added.
As investigation on both cases progresses and as oppositional parties take to the streets demanding Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation, the CPI (M)-led LDF is feeling the heat from all sides. With Bineesh’s arrest, Chennithala described the CM’s office as the centre for organised crime. “Is Kerala being governed by a Mafia under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan? The office is being used for illegal activities such as gold smuggling, human trafficking,” he added.