The major political parties in Kerala are adept at sweeping under the carpet alleged incidents of swindling public funds. Any probe in such cases often hit a dead-end. When public money is collected, no questions are raised and no cases are charged by any party. This is Part 1 of Malayala Manorama series on 'Missing Party Funds'. Read Part 2 here: Curious case of vanishing 'memorial' funds.
Several functionaries of the CPM, the Congress and the BJP had of late come under scrutiny over misappropriation of party funds or sourcing black money to fund poll expenses.
Where do the crores our political parties collect from the people go? If anyone still raises questions, he will be penalised for sure as happened with a popular CPM office-bearer in Kannur district.
Avaricious CPM functionaries
Several CPM office-bearers at various level have been facing vehement allegations over shady deals, swinding of cooperative bank loans, smuggling, encroachments etc.
CPM election funds to the tune of Rs 1 crore is alleged to have misappropriated. The same was the case with an area committee office building fund and martyr Dhanraj aid fund in Payyannur.
“Are the accounts being maintained accurately and presented before the respective committees?”. This was the question raised by the CPM State Committee in its party letter to its lower committees in 2017 May, under the section ‘account maintenance.’
It was around this time that the fund collection had begun in Payyannur for the particular funds, which later led to the controversy.
In the public, the CPM says, ‘The lapse in Payyannur was carelessness and lack of audit, presentation of accounts from time to time. T I Madhusoodanan, MLA, was demoted to the District Committee from the District Secretariat for this lapse. Action was also initiated against three other members.’
The action against one person grabbed more attention; V Kunhikrishnan, the whistleblower who brought out the misappropriation, was removed from his position as the area secretary.
Kunhirkishnan had also alleged that the misappropriation was known to the District leadership of the party. The party washed its hands by settling martyr Dhanraj’s debts.
The moral: One should not point out or bring to light any party fund misappropriation even if one comes to know of it.
What the CM said on police action
The two questions were raised to the Chief Minister in the State Assembly on July 6 over these deceits.
Question 1: Has the police received a complaint on any misappropriation of funds from Payyannnur Assembly Election funds, the Area Committee Office building fund, and the fund raised for helping the family of martyr Dhanraj? Has the police charged a case for collecting money from the public and swindling it?
Response: Payyannur Police received a complaint on 21 June. A preliminary investigation is on.
Criminal conspiracy and provocation to cause riots were charged against Swapna Suresh, the key accused in the diplomatic baggage channel gold smuggling case, the very next day after she gave a confidential statement before the Magistrate against the Chief Minister. A special team led by 11 Deputy Superintendents of Police was also formed for the investigation.
However, in the case of party fund misappropriation which involves a CPM MLA, the police have not initiated action even almost a month after receiving the complaint.
Question 2: What is the progress in the investigation in the hawala case which was allegedly aimed at undermining the assembly elections in 2021?
Response: The follow-up investigation has been intensified as it has been found that more evidence needs to be collected in the case.
The Chief Minister’s Police are still ‘intensifying the investigation’, 1 year and 2 months after the incident. This is the status of the highway robbery case in Kodakara, and the linked hawala dealing through which crores were brought to Kerala for the poll campaign of the BJP party, which the CPM considers its political enemy!
No trace of money raised by the Congress
Now let us come to the main opposition in the State – the Congress party. After the new leadership took over, the largest fund collection by the party was the ‘137 challenge’.
As per the accounts presented during the last KPCC office-bearers meet, Rs 4.60 crore was received in three accounts. To the query on why there are 3 accounts, the response is that it is due to ‘technical reasons’. Going by the promised contributions, the funds must have crossed Rs 10 crore, says one of the KPCC office bearers, off the record.
There is no clue whether the promised funds have been received fully or whether it has reached the KPCC. However, there was no question raised on the same in the KPCC meeting.