Whenever the LDF government gets embroiled in controversies and political crisis, Kerala eagerly looks forward to hearing what CPI and Kanam Rajednran have to say. Kanam Rajendran speaks to Manorama at length on the current issues in Kerala.
Q: The chief minister's former principal secretary M Sivasankar was the central point of gold smuggling controversy. CPI had called for his removal after the controversy over Sprinklr emerged. Is the free run allowed to some of the officers responsible for the present problems ?
When Sivasankar met me to explain the Sprinklr issue, he told me "only I am responsible for this contract". He said this while holding two responsible positions in the government; chief minister's principal secretary and IT secretary. Cabinet was kept in the dark while signing the contract. There was no vetting by the law department or finance department. I told him that your actions had led to a situation where Left's principled and well stated position on data privacy has been compromised. I asked CPM to shift him out. After the contract got lapsed following completion of stipulated time, didn’t we realize that there was no need for such an agreement?
Q: Was it possible for Sivasankar to single handedly execute the contract without the backing of the chief minister ?
I don’t know whether this could have been done without the knowledge of the chief minister. But we don’t know about the relationship between the chief minister and the officer.
Q: Sivasankar was also the key link related to the controversies pertaining to consultancy. Will the LDF government yield to the consultancy love of bureaucrats lobby in this manner?
A: Most senior officials in the secretariat have received training from the World Bank. Therefore the language of officers who are responsible for implementing the Left's development agenda is that of the World Bank. Our well stated position is that consultancy is not required. CPI's stand is that in case if consultancy is needed as part of regulations or in some special circumstances then it should be in a very limited manner.
Q: Will it be wrong if people suspect that more fraud could have happened especially when a person holding a key position in the chief minister's office who has close acquaintance with the prime accused in the gold smuggling case ?
One cannot blame the public if they were to think on those lines. Everyone now believes in the statements given by the accused. Even those who have been engaged in political work for ten-fifty years now are landing in trouble just on the basis of one statement. Eighty days have passed since the NIA arrived. Apart from preparing the ground for propaganda against the state government, have they investigated those who sent the gold or the involvement of the Consulate ? The central agencies are being used to keep the state government under a smokescreen. On the other hand Ramesh Chennithala is laying a red carpet for these agencies despite being a leader of the Congress which is experiencing the misuse of central agencies to topple their governments in various parts of the country.
Q: The CPM is not speaking against the central agencies with the incisiveness of CPI ?
A: There is a limit for the state government to voice its opposition against the Centre. There is no need for political parties to show any slackness in expressing their political stand. The CPM's recent resolution against the CBI is different. The LDF agitation beginning on September 29 is also against the central agencies. What is required today is not defence but counter attack.
Q: Is it the duty of a minister to directly undertake the distribution of aid given by a foreign consulate?
No it’s not like that. Even earlier, the governments have been approached for distribution of Zakat keeping in view the good relations with the UAE.
Q: Can the minister directly get in touch with the Consulate for this purpose?
The problem is that this goes against the protocol. But all this has to be decided by the individuals. If we were to examine the issue minutely there is no need for the Consulate officials to ask the minister to distribute aid. The minister need not take the initiative for such distribution.
Q: What came to your mind when a minister in the Left government said that he would resign if Panakkad Hyderali Shihab swore by the Quran and say he is a wrong doer ? The CPI is not yet ready to give a clean chit to Jaleel ?
I don’t know why he said so. There is no question of clean chit in this issue. A probe is currently on against him. Let the report come, I will say the rest later. Because of his closeness, Jaleel might have explained all things to the chief minister. These things are not conveyed to political parties. Has anyone resigned just on the basis of a question in a case ?
Q: When you say Jaleel didn’t do the right thing in appearing before the investigating agency clandestinely the chief minister has contradicted saying it was an action with diligence?
The chief minister might have said as the minister holding the portfolio of law and order. Why should you appear secretly when a central agency calls a minister for questioning? One can appear in the presence of the media. When you create suspicion through such actions the vested interests get an opportunity to spread rumours.
Q: Investigations have begun into Kodiyeri Balakrishnanan's disproportionate assets. Can such allegations be seen lightly ?
It’s not trivial. Kodieyri has already made his stand clear on the issue. They (Kodiyeri's son and friends) have been doing business for some time now. Therefore I don't know what all issues are involved. However, the party and government will not intervene in the matter.
The CPM and CPI well stated position is that families of the leaders should be above board in their public and private life?
That is applicable to members of all parties. But the implementation of such norms will depend on how the new generation moves forward.
Q: Does Jose K Mani who quit UDF have any option other than LDF ?
Aren’t they discussing these issues with everyone? They may be discussing with the BJP as well. However, let them make their stand clear. What was pointed out earlier was that late M P Veerendrakumar had quit Rajya Sabha and came to the LDF. It is for them to accept or reject this formula.
Q: Will their (Jose K Mani faction) support help LDF gain Christian votes in central Travancore ?
That party does not have the kind of Christian support base now. There is no point comparing the present party with K M Mani's old party. Even when Mani was alive, we had taken a strong stand against them. After his death we feel it is not appropriate to take his name always and that’s why we are not speaking against them strongly. The remarks of LDF convener on bar bribe case agitation which came out recently, were never discussed in the Left front.
Q: Have the recent controversies spoiled the possibility of LDF's continuation in power after 2021 polls ?
It has affected us partially. But LDF is capable of going to the people and coming back strongly.
Q: How come CPI and party's ministers have managed to steer clear of such controversies?
We don’t jump into such issues, that’s why.
Q: When the gold smuggling accused statement came that she received a commission of Rs 1 crore in the Life Mission project, the chief minister's media advisor who is also a journalist, disclosed that the actual commission amount was over Rs 4 crore. Subsequently when ministers Thomas Isaac and A K Balan confirmed the bribe amount what did you feel?
That was totally irresponsible action. Anyway, a probe is going on. If I say something at this stage it will be a more irresponsible response from my side.