KIIFB controversy: Central agencies should not try to appease Centre, Opposition, says Vijayan

Vijayan said the intervention of the central agencies in Kerala is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct as Assembly elections are nearing
KIIFB controversy: Central agencies should not try to appease Centre, Opposition, says Vijayan
Vijayakumar Blathur

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has slammed the Centre and the opposition over the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) controversy.

During a press conference on Thursday, Vijayan said the intervention of the central agencies in Kerala is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct as the Assembly elections are nearing. “The Central Agencies should not try to appease the Centre and the Opposition,” Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister added that the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) intervention in Kerala was in the interest of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “Do not interfere with development. The BJP leadership has seen only those who kneel before power. That's not the case here, it's Kerala,” he said.

The CM said that the attempt to attack the state government with the ED was started because the people did not take the Union Finance Minister’s allegation at face value.

According to reports, the Kerala government is preparing to file a case and take legal action against ED officials for allegedly harassing and threatening a female officer at KIIFB, who was called in for questioning

Meanwhile, reportedly, the state government is preparing to file a case with the police and take legal action against ED officials for allegedly harassing and threatening a female officer at KIIFB, who was called in for questioning. On the other hand, KIIFB and the directorate have gotten into a spat over the questioning, as many of the former’s officers refused to appear for questioning despite the latter calling them multiple times.

KIIFB controversy: Central agencies should not try to appease Centre, Opposition, says Vijayan
Why comparing KIIFB with NTPC and NHAI over masala bonds is an unfair argument

Thomas Isaac’s Reaction

Earlier today, Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac had slammed Union Minister V Muraleedharan for his remarks on Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) in a Facebook post that has since then gone viral. This also follows the Enforcement Directorate’s Investigation of KIIFB and the masala bonds. “Kerala is not ruled by people who are afraid of the central agencies who are let out of their leashes. If Union Minister V Muraleedharan is outraged by this statement, then I should add that we are not afraid of those who hold the leash,” Isaac said in the post. He added that BJP’s efforts to destroy KIIFB and destabilise Kerala’s development would get a strong setback.

In a recent statement, Muraleedharan said that KIIFB raised money through Masala Bonds by violating rules. Isaac questioned as to which rules were broken. “Muraleedharan should clarify which rules were broken? KIIFB followed all the current rules in the country to raise money through Masala Bonds. How did NTPC collect Rs 2,000 crore through masala bond? He may not be aware that the National Highway Association of India went to the London Stock Exchange to collect Rs 5,000 crore through Masala Bond. If there was such stupidity, it would not have been called out in public,” Isaac said.

Isaac pointed out that KIIFB followed all rules that NTPC and NHAI followed to raise money through Masala Bonds since KIIFB is also a legally formed body corporate. “If the following people can use the masala bond to complete the developmental activities, then KIIFB can also use it,” he added. However, this comparison is not straightforward.

Isaac also hit out at Muraleedharan for remarking that money raised Masala Bonds as “receiving money from abroad”. “I am not surprised that a BJP minister who has raised party funds with commissions and corruption in a manner unprecedented in the history of India felt that way. Do not assume that everyone else is like this,” Isaac said.

The Enforcement Directorate’s probe comes soon after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed a rally in the state where she alleged that KIIFB was a debt trap. Isaac also attacked Muraleedharan over ED’s activity in the state just before the elections.

“Let me remind Muraleedharan and his associates of one thing. There is no need to roam around the whole of Kerala with the pretence that state government officials can be intimidated and harassed and their morale shattered,” he said, adding, “If the investigation is to know and understand the facts, we will fully cooperate with them. Besides, if the ED’s Kochi unit officials think that they can do anything with the BJP behind them, then there will be a similar reaction. If you want to show the lawfulness that has been floated in other states, you will get a respective answer here. No doubt about it.”

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