Two personalities close to the CPM circles and the present Kerala government have been languishing in jail for the last 40 days. They are Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar and former party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh Kodiyeri.
While both of them are not active members of CPM, they had enough clout within the party and the government to dictate terms. Interestingly, both were active SFI members during their college days. Another thread that could connect the two is that while they were arrested for different criminal offences, there is enough evidence to link both cases.
M Sivasankar, a mechanical engineer with an MBA started his career with RBI. Later, through state service, he was posted as Deputy Collector and he was conferred with IAS in 1995. The suspended IAS officer had a glittering career. He turned around the IT sector of Kerala with many initiatives like the Akshaya centres, Smart ration cards, digitalised government services etc. As Sports Secretary, he was appreciated for the conduct of National games.
When the LDF Govt came into power in 2016, Sivasankar was seen shadowing Pinarayi Vijayan, much before the latter took oath as CM. Sivasankar accompanied Pinarayi to the Raj Bhavan for staking claim to form the government. When Pinarayi appointed Sivasankar as the Principal Secretary, raising many eyebrows, there were murmurs in the corridors of power since a conferred IAS was sitting in the coveted chair. The regular IAS officers had their reservation against Sivasankar.
Soon Sivasankar became Pinarayi’s Man Friday, with the CM trusting him with governance. The blessings from Pinarayi encouraged Sivasankar to bypass procedures and regulations in awarding new projects. The controversial Sprinklr deal was cleared without the consent of the Financial Secretary and Chief Secretary. Even the K-FONE deal had the imprint of Sivasankar’s hastiness. These led to suspicions with the Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala pointing out the excesses. However, the CM stood by his man and protected him.
When a diplomatic baggage meant for the UAE consulate was caught with gold inside it, the prime accused in the case Swapna Suresh, a former consulate employee, was arrested. The customs informed that they had received phone calls from the CMO for the release of the baggage. CM Pinarayi Vijayan vehemently refused the allegation then. It was further revealed that Swapna was an employee of the IT department of Kerala Government and was handpicked by Sivasankar, giving her a whopping salary.
Allegedly, Sivasankar and Swapna shared a special relationship and both flew together to various destinations in an official capacity. These were revealed in further investigations and Pinarayi tried to shield his man as much as possible. He had to give up, as the IAS officer’s involvement in hawala racket and Life Mission scam was unearthed. The former Principal Secretary has been in the custody of ED and customs since October 28, 2020.
Sivasankar, a man with such an illustrious career gave up his reputation for money and power. As a person who had controlled the state government agencies, he is now in the custody of an investigating agency. Is Sivasankar just a mere pawn in the hands of big power players? Only time will answer.
Bineesh, however, spread his wings when his father, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was the Home Minister of the state. From being a small-time actor and cricket enthusiast, Bineesh christened himself as a “don” in power circles. Allegedly, from murky land dealings to drug supplies, Bineesh reportedly had various criminal dealings.
He made friends at all levels of society and built a questionable network using them. Owning two cricket clubs in Kerala helped him get into the Sports Association. The popular coffee house at Thiruvananthapuram’s beach, which was owned by Sports Council of Kerala, was leased out to Bineesh.
Investments in cricket clubs in Kerala, to hotels and clubs in Bengaluru, Bineesh soon became a prominent member. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his father who is a powerful politician. He was an icon for the CPM youth and Bineesh had all the support of his cadres whenever he landed in trouble. Take the instance of when Bineesh was sentenced to jail for two months by the Dubai Court for a bank loan default. The case was later settled amicably and a video of Bineesh claiming victory in the case, addressing his comrades went viral. His name was even raised along with his brother Binoy for cheating a Dubai firm of Rs 13 Crore. That case was reportedly settled out of court.
Alleged association of Bineesh with Kirmani Manoj and Mohammed Shafi the prime accused in TP Chandrasekharan murder case reiterates his party connection. He had close friendly relations with a few CPM MLAs as well.
When a drug cartel was busted in Bengaluru, the investigations led to Bineesh, who was the major partner of that crime syndicate. Enforcement Directorate arrested Bineesh on October 29 and he has been under custody for the past 40 odd days. The questioning of Bineesh and his associates revealed many more angles of crime, which could well be connected, to the gold smuggling scam.
The misuse of Child Welfare Commission by the state government to derail the ED raid at Bineesh’s Thiruvananthapuram residence is a glaring example of CPM as a party and the LDF government standing besides Bineesh.
The man who finalised many deals for the powerful is now behind bars, his rise, did not last long. These two people who rose to the peak amongst party members and the government have fallen hard and bad. This could cause a chain reaction to those around them.