The Pinarayi Vijayan government has thrown a fireball into the political arena by raking up the solar case again. But even the one who threw it has no clue about what will be the consequences. It could either explode, or it could leave someone hurt.
The UDF leadership smelt trouble as soon as the complainant in the solar scam handed over a letter to the chief minister on January 20. It is not lost on anyone the fact that the complaint was made immediately after Congress made Oomen Chandy the head of a 10-member committee for the assembly polls in Kerala was not a coincidence.
The complainant, who is an accused in many cases, did not have to wait like the mother in the Walayar case for the government to make a move for a CBI inquiry. In fact, even the CPM centres have not come out with an explanation for the hasty decision which was taken without even informing the cabinet or the DGP.
The CPM is looking at whether the solar case can be used as a weapon to gain an edge in the second consecutive assembly election. As the party leadership tries to inject confidence into the party about the possibility of continuing its rule in the state, especially in the wake of the success in the local body elections, comes the indiction from the Chief Minister that the eight-year-old case may also be needed to ensure victory in the assembly polls.
The government’s move seems to be an admission that the development and welfare measures it has tom-tommed about and finance minister Thomas Isaac’s budget promises will not be enough for the party.
A weapon to counter-attack
The government also is aware of the risk that the opposition may raise the gold smuggling case again. It does not want to find its quiver empty if there is any attack against the Speaker or ministers in connection with the case.
For more than four months now, the political campaign of the party and the LDF has been aimed against the central investigation agencies. But now it plans to use the CBI as a weapon against the opposition. If the CBI refuses to take up the case, then the Left can allege that it is a result of the understanding between the Congress and the BJP to bring about its downfall.
Two Congress working committee members and AP Abdullakutty, former Congress leader who is currently one of the 12 national vice-presidents of the BJP, figure on the list of accused in the solar scam.
Govt efforts have hit a dead end
A look at the history of the case shows that this government has not been able to do anything with the investigation. It has got the case examined by former Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat and three officials of the rank of DGP, but has not been able to determine the way forward. Having hit such a dead end, the case veered around to reconsidering the letter of the complainant, which has been a topic of many discussions in Kerala.
The government handed over the demand for a CBI probe against Oommen Chandy on the same day that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan congratulated his predecessor on completing the Golden Jubilee as a legislator.
Pinarayi’s tit for tat
The Oommen Chandy government had handed over the Lavalin case to the CBI when Pinarayi was preparing to become one of the chief ministerial candidates in the 2006 assembly elections. Pinarayi believes that decision was the reason why he was unable to enter the parliamentary arena for 10 years and was forced to remain content with organisational matters.
Although the CBI took over the Lavalin case following a court order, Pinarayi believes it was the UDF government that paved the way for the inquiry. Pinarayi’s reply to Oommen Chandy has come when the Congress leader has been asked to lead from the front the UDF’s assembly polls campaign after he remained behind the scenes for five years.