Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's closest bureaucrat and former IT secretary M Sivasankar could be on his way out.
The two-member committee headed by Chief Secretary Viswas Mehta that is probing Sivasankar's conduct, sources say, has already told the Chief Minister that it would be advisable to suspend Sivasankar pending enquiry. The Chief Minister is said to have asked for a quick report and it is expected that the report would be handed over by Thursday afternoon.
A source said that the Chief Minister had consulted top CPM leaders on Thursday. However, he refused to confirm whether it was in connection with the Sivasankar issue. The sudden party level talks is a clear sign that the Chief Minister intends to take disciplinary action against his former secretary.
He was just forewarning his party. There will be political consequences that the party will be forced to manage. Sivasankar's suspension would make the cry for the Chief Minister's resignation shriller, causing more embarrassment for the party. Consulting with top leaders in the party, therefore, is a way of telling them to be on guard.
The probe panel, sources said, had not really found Sivasankar guilty of any illegal deeds. But the report could point out that the civil servant had struck a bond with suspicious characters beyond what is professionally necessary. He is said to have violated the All India Civil Service Conduct Rules.
At this point, it is not clear whether the Chief Secretary's report has come to any conclusion on Sivasankar's role in appointing Swapna Suresh's to a crucial post at Space Park, a project under the IT department.
The Chief Minister's attitude towards Sivasankar had also evolved in the last few days. Initially, while asking him to go on a long leave, Vijayan had emphasised that it was a decision prompted by ethical concerns. “We thought it would not be right to have a person accused of close links to a controversial woman in the Chief Minister's office. But this does not mean that he had done anything legally wrong,” Vijayan had said.
But the Chief Minister's attitude changed when more proof linking Sivasankar to Sawpna Suresh, P S Sarith Kumar and Sandeep Nair, the second, first and fourth accused in the gold smuggling case respectively, came to light. “In normal case, a bureaucrat has to do his job and move on. Now it seems it was not the case. He should not have struck a bond with such a person,” the Chief Minster said on July 14.
Nonetheless, Vijayan also made it clear that action would be taken only if there was solid proof.