Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said it was he himself and not an impostor who had signed the file related to Malayalam Language Day observance. Earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Sandeep Warrier had alleged that someone had faked the chief minster's signature on a file in September 2018 when he was in America for treatment. Trying to link the issue to the gold smuggling case, the BJP spokesperson had asked whether it was Sivasankar or Swapna Suresh who had put the chief minister's signature.
The chief minister said this was a charge he had already responded to. Earlier, Congress legislator K C Joseph had alleged that governance had come to a standstill and files were accumulating after the CM had left for America. At his sunset briefing on Thursday, Vijayan repeated the official reply that Joseph was provided then. "The files are being sent to the chief minister through the electronic system and decisions promptly taken. Not just on e-files, decisions on even physical files are being taken. Physical files are sent after converting them to e-files," the chief minister read out of the earlier reply.
Vijayan then stressed that the signature was his. He held up his iPad to show that he is always connected. He scrolled down on his iPad and said that on September 6, 2018, as many as 39 files were sent to him. "It was not just the Malayalam Language Day file that I had signed on that day," he said. The CM said that the e-office system had come into being from August 24, 2013. "The person who made the charge would not have been aware of it but someone like P K Kunhalikutty, who was a minister, would not have been ignorant of this," Vijayan said. Muslim League leader and former industries minister MP P K Kunhalikutty had said the issue was "very grave".
The CM said he had been using the e-office facility whenever he was away from his office. However, Vijayan said his signature was a digital one. Warrier had said it was not.
Vijayan's assertion that it was a digital signature could be embarrassing for CPM leaders like finance minster M Thomas Isaac and M V Jayarajan. To counter Warrier's charge that that signature was not digital, they said if it was a paper or physical file a print out would be taken and signed, and then it would be scanned and resent. The CM said all files come to him as e-files. Here is what Isaac said: "It is a file from the Malayalam Mission they had produced as proof. It was a physical file. A print out of the scanned copy of the file that returned with the chief minister's signature was taken and filed." But the chief minister made it clear that even physical files are sent to him as e-files on which he affixes his digital signature.
At a press briefing in Thiruvananthapuram earlier on Thursday, Warrier said it was strange the chief minister's signature was found on a file dated September 9, 2018, when he was n America for treatment. The chief minister had left for America on September 2, 2018, and came back by the end of the month on September 28. "It was not a digital signature either," Warrier said. He said Kerala was not ruled by Pinarayi Vijayan but by an impostor. " Warrier used the Malayalam word for fake (vyajan) that rhymed with Vijayan to drive home his point.
Hinting at something deeper, Warrier also said that it was after such a signature that M V Jayarajan was removed from the Chief Minister's Office.
Right after Warrier made the charge, the BJP state president K Surendran said that the chief minister should reveal who faked his signature.
The BJP also wanted all the files that had left the Chief Minister's Office to be brought under scrutiny.
Warrier said that former chief ministers had a system in place to clear files in their absence. During K Karunakaran's tenure, for instance, the chief secretary had signed for the chief minister jotting "with the knowledge of the chief minister '' under the signature.