Kochi: Kerala's Opposition Leader V D Satheesan appeared both confident and sarcastic when he responded to the Left government's decision to conduct a Vigilance inquiry into alleged financial irregularities in the 'Punarjani' flood relief project implemented in his Paravur assembly constituency.
"I have a request to the chief minister's office. When Pinarayi Vijayan calls from the US, you should tell him the opposition leader was terrified to hear the news about the Vigilance probe," Satheesan said in a sarcastic tone on Saturday as he addressed media at the Ernakulam district Congress committee office.
The Congress leader said he welcomes the investigation as he himself had challenged the government to initiate a Vigilance probe into him when the allegations cropped up way back in 2020.
"In 2020, when the allegations surfaced, I myself had dared the government to order a Vigilance probe. I will cooperate with any investigation. But we should remember the chronology of this case. When a complaint was filed against me first, the home department, handled by the CM, itself had quashed it due to lack of merit. Then another complaint was filed seeking the permission of the speaker to prosecute me. It was examined in detail by the assembly secretary and rejected by the speaker. After that, a single bench and division bench of the high court quashed the complaints against me in the admission stage itself. Not even a notice was sent to me. After three years, the same allegation has been raked up. People of Kerala know what is the motive behind the move," he said.
Satheesan said the Vigilance probe was initiated at a time when the chief minister is in the dock over the unauthorised fundraising for the Loka Kerala Sabha event in the US. The chief minister ordered the probe before he left for the US.
The order was issued in a case related to receiving foreign funds for the Punarjani project from abroad, allegedly violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). The probe is based on the complaint lodged by an action council which sought to investigate the FCRA violations and Satheesan's foreign trips seeking support for the project.
Listing out the works done as part of the Punarjani programme, including building houses for the poor, Satheesan said he considered it a fortune to design and implement such a programme. The programme was implemented in the aftermath of the floods of 2018.
Satheesan said he has not received any amount from anyone in the name of the project. "We only identified the donors and beneficiaries and connected them with each other," he said.
"I hope when the Vigilance prepares its investigation report, they would hail it as a model rebuild project," Satheesan said.
He said just like the Modi government at the Centre acted against Rahul Gandhi when he spoke up against it, Vijayan was targetting him for exposing his corruption.
'Group leaders should self-introspect'
Reacting to questions over the reported complaint against him by a section of Congress leaders over the party reorganisation, Satheesan said everyone should do a self-introspection over what they are doing.
"The restructuring was done in a democratic manner unlike never before. We were brought into the leadership at a moment of crisis. Our only aim is to revive the party in the state," he said.
On the reports of factional leaders convening meetings against the leadership, Satheesan said, "See, it's now news if a group convenes a meeting in the Congress. Earlier, it was a day-to-day affair and it had no news value at all. This is a major change that happened in the party in the past two years."