PT Thomas's attempt to paint Pinarayi as patron of timber smugglers falls flat

PT Thomas's attempt to paint Pinarayi as patron of timber smugglers falls flat
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Thrikkakkara MLA P T Thomas. File photo

Thriuvananthapuram: There is no need to lie to put a person under a cloud of suspicion. A truth with just one crucial piece of information missing could do the job as effectively.

On June 8, while moving a motion to suspend Assembly proceedings to discuss timber smuggling in Wayanad, Congress's Thrikkakkara MLA P T Thomas made a loaded statement against the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that none in the ruling benches questioned.

Thomas's point was that the smugglers, who had transported over 200 cubic metres of rosewood from Wayanad to Perumbavoor in Ernakulam in February this year, had official and political patronage. In a sarcastic tone he had said: “At a time when the whole of Kerala was under police supervision, how did these timber logs walk from Wayanad to Ernakulam. How many check posts along the way had closed their eyes? Did these things happen without the government's knowledge,” Thomas posed one question after the other.

What looked like an attack on the system turned specific. “These timber smugglers are no ordinary people. There have been implicated in a number of fraud cases before. It was our honourable chief minister who was supposed to inaugurate the website of Mango Mobiles (said to be owned by these smugglers) in Ernakulam. But on the morning of the inauguration, we heard that the police had arrested these people right from the inaugural venue. The chief minister, therefore, didn't have to do the inaugural honours. Isn't the depth of their fraud clear from this," he asked.

Leave alone ruling party MLAs, not even forest minister A K Saseendran, who responded to Thomas's motion, or Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was present when Thomas made the remark and who was also not the kind who would let such an allegation pass, objected to what he said.

Since the Congress leader had not specified any date, it was not clear whether the inauguration was scheduled during the pandemic or before. The general impression was that it was before the pandemic as the chief minister had stopped attending private events after COVID-19 struck.

However on Wednesday, towards the fag end of the discussion on the Budget, the chief minister stood up. The immediate thought was that he was going to respond to some of the points that Opposition Leader V D Satheesan had made during his Budget discussion speech. “I am not going to respond to any of what you said. That will be done by the finance minister,” the chief minister said, looking at Satheesan.

He then told Speaker M B Rajesh that certain members were using the immunity of the House to level baseless allegations. “Yesterday, P T Thomas had spoken about the inauguration of the mango Mobiles website and the arrest that had taken place before the inauguration. But he said that without giving the name of the chief minister. This inauguration that Thomas had referred to happened on February 24, 2016. I was not the chief minister then,” Vijayan said. “By sharing just half information, he must have thought he could put push me into a shadow of doubt,” he added.

Now, it was the chief minister's turn to be sarcastic. “Thomas might have got some special glee in forcing me to expose who the real chief minister was,” he said, suggesting that Thomas had an axe to grind with the former chief minister Oommen Chandy.

The chief minister, in the detached light manner of someone who did not expect any admission of guilt, said in the normal case the member should apologise. Thomas refused.

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