Pinarayi sidesteps crucial poser on Karuvannur bank heist. Instead, calls CPM a moral wonder

There are two ways in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan evades difficult questions. One, he would appear deeply hurt, projecting a certain righteous anger. Two, he would completely ignore the question.

In the first mode, Pinarayi attempts to convey the impression of being the eternal victim of the media's relentless witch-hunt. The second was the tactic he employed when the UDF had brought a no-confidence motion against his government in August, 2020, when the gold smuggling scandal was raging. Vijayan's nearly three-hour reply was an elaborate exposition of his government's achievements but there was not a word of reply to the allegations that led to the no-confidence motion.

At times, Vijayan employs a combination of both. Like when he was asked about the loot in Karuvannur Service Cooperative bank during his sunset briefing on Friday. “There is a charge that the CPM had known what was happening and still did not do anything about it,” the chief minister was asked.

Vijayan sounded surprised that a journalist could think of CPM as a party that would condone such corrupt deeds. “On the basis of which experience could you say that the CPM is a kind of party that would take a share from the loot from such a filthy activity. We as a party had always fought the wrongs and deviations of society,” the chief minister said. 

He even said that the person who asked the question could not even call himself a journalist because of his distorted understanding of the CPM.

Nonetheless, while explaining how morally superior his party was, the chief minister failed to answer the basic question posed to him. Why did the CPM wait for such a long time, over three years, to dismiss the governing council of the Karuvannur Service Cooperative bank?

The loot has been going on since at least 2018. It was three years ago a woman who had her documents taken by the bank and had not been granted even a single rupee as loan received a recovery notice from the bank. Loans ranging from Rs 13 crore to Rs 26 crore were sanctioned to certain individuals close to the bank officials in imaginary names. Over Rs 50 lakh was taken as loan in the name of a headload worker. 

Many other labourers, members of the CPM's trade union wing CITU, found large sums taken in their names. They had complained to the party. The party's area secretary, two district secretaries and a commission headed by a former CPM MP, P K Biju, were convinced that money was being siphoned off from the bank. The bank has been governed for the last 10 years by a council with a CPM man as the president, Poruthassery branch member K K Divakaran. 

Members were illegally enrolled and hundreds of loans exceeding legal limits were issued. Nearly fifty percent of the stock of the supermarket run by the bank was pocketed by a cartel linked to the bank officials. 

All of this was known, at least to the district-level leaders of the CPM. Yet, the governing council of the bank was dismissed only yesterday, on July 22. “What were you doing the last three years,” Opposition Leader V D Satheesan asked the government in the Assembly on Friday.

It was the very same question that was put in a different way to the chief minister during the press conference on Friday. There was no answer, except for the self-righteous statement that the CPM was a moral wonder.

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