Following the Vigilance raid of KSFE, CPI (M) leaders allege that Raman Srivastava, the police advisor to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has initiated the raid with vested interest aiming at damaging KSFE’s image. The controversies surrounding Srivastava has always existed since his time as the DIG of Kerala police. The latest involves his position close to the CM. Moreover, the CPI (M) is focussing on the police advisor’s position as an advisor to a private security company. The company’s parent also owns a financial service that is a direct competition to KSFE.
CPM State Secretariat member Anathalavattom Anandan has also come out openly against the KSFE raids on Sunday. He said, “There is a conspiracy behind the raids. The government should make it clear on whose complaint the inspection was carried out. There is genuine suspicion that the raids were to help private financial institutions.”
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate conducted a raid at Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS) at their headquarters of at Vadakara. There were allegations that CM Raveendran, Chief Minister’s Additional Private Secretary, have links with the Uralungal Society. The ED officers spent almost two hours investigating around the headquarters, but ULCCS chairman Paleri Rameshan told media persons that the ED officers were only asking questions and did not take any files.
The Kerala government plans to initiate action against the employees who granted permission and leaked the information regarding the raids by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE) branches statewide. The government has sought Vigilance’s report regarding the raid and further proceedings.
The Vigilance was to submit a preliminary report stating action against 20 KSFE branches’ officials to the government following the raids’ findings. However, the VACB has come under tremendous pressure after the Chief Minister’s order to freeze the Vigilance raid’s further proceedings.
According to reports, Vigilance director Sudesh Kumar, who is currently outside the state, has directed officials to submit a report only after proper consultation and to refrain from revealing the raid’s details to the public. The government has also asked Sudesh, who is reportedly on leave, to return immediately.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has also expressed displeasure over the Vigilance raid. He said that the Chief Minister is unaware of the investigation and added that the probe gave the opposition an opportunity to tarnish the image of government enterprises. The Vigilance was supposed to have acted sensibly, the Finance Minister suggested.
Thomas added, “Conducting a Vigilance probe, submitting the report to the government and initiating an action if necessary are normal procedures. However, turning each and every single thing into a political weapon is not normal. The Vigilance will only act according to the Kerala government’s direction. So, there is no need for Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala or Union Minister V Muraleedharan to wait for anything to criticise the government.”
Besides, some of the senior CPM leaders have alleged conspiracy behind the raid move. KSFE comes under the Finance Minister, and the Vigilance department, which is part of the home department, is headed by the Chief Minister. Apart from the Additional Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister has appointed an Additional Secretary for the home department, who is handling Vigilance probes. Therefore, any raids in an institution like KSFE will only be carried out with the knowledge of higher authorities. The Finance Minister is well informed that the person behind the raid plan was aware of this move’s political consequences. It might have forced him to limit his response to describing it as “crazy”.
Reportedly, the Finance Department is planning to conduct an urgent internal audit in 36 branches of KSFE where Vigilance raids had discovered irregularities. The Vigilance had conducted raids in 40 offices.