With the audio clip causing serious embarrassment to the LDF government, forest minister A K Saseendran did not waste time to offer an explanation to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the issue.
Saseendran told the Chief Minister that he called up the father of the victim thinking it was an internal party issue. He said it was not as the father of the victim that he called the person but as a party colleague. He also told the Chief Minister that he stopped intervening in the issue after it came to light it was a case of molestation. He also refuted the charge that he had attempted to influence the police investigation into the case. Saseendran said the same things inside NCP's internal forum, too. This is the second time an audio clip had shown Saseendran in a poor light.
Last time, in 2017, an audio clip had caught Saseendran in a sexually loaded conversation with a female. It had cost his a cabinet berth; he was transport minister then.
Earlier in the day, an audio clip had surfaced in which the forest minister can be heard asking the father of a harassment victim to settle the charge against a Kollam-based leader of his NCP party in a "good way".
The father of the victim, himself a local NCP leader, alleges that Saseendran was standing in the way of his family getting justice. He said it was Saseendran's influence that had prevented the police from taking action on the basis of the complaint his daughter had filed. The police are yet to file an FIR in the case.
Saseendran conceded on Tuesday that the audio clip featured his voice. He said he had called only to know what the issue was as both the parties were NCP members. He said the police inaction should be probed.
It was on June 28 that the woman had filed a complaint with the Kundara police station alleging that NCP state executive member G Padmakaran had caught hold of her hand and attempted to molest her inside the hotel of the accused. The incident had happened in March.
Though her father is an NCP member, the complainant is a BJP member who had contested the local body polls in 2020. She was active in the BJP even after the polls.
The victim, in her complaint, said that Padmakaran had called her to his hotel. He wanted to know why she had joined the BJP when everyone else in her family belonged to the NCP. According to the complaint, Padmakaran said that if it was money that she needed he would give it to her and, saying this, caught her hand. The victim says she did not have the courage to respond at that moment.
Besides the attempt to molest, the victim in her complaint said that Padmakaran had spread false information about her, and vilified her, on social media.
In the audio clip, the minister is heard indirectly broaching the subject. He tells the father of the victim about certain problems in the NCP. The father then wants to know which problem the minister was referring to. The father then mentions Padmakaran's behaviour towards his daughter. The minister confirms that it was what he was referring to. "I want the issue settled in a good manner," the minister says.
"This case is about Padmakaran catching hold of my daughter's hands and attempting to molest her. How do you want me to settle the issue in a good manner," the father asks. "You know what I mean," the minister says.
The father also reminds the minister that his daughter is in the BJP. He also keeps asking the minister how he wanted the issue settled in a “good manner”.
Saseendran refuses to talk further saying it would not be advisable to talk over phone.