Kerala solar panel scam: CM Oommen Chandy refuses to quit

Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 17: The 'Solar panel' scam, which has brought the office of the Kerala Chief Minister under a cloud, rocked the state Assembly today with LDF opposition stepping up their demand for Oommen Chandy's
kerala solar panel scam cm oommen chandy refuses...
PTI June 17, 2013 18:49 IST
Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 17: The 'Solar panel' scam, which has brought the office of the Kerala Chief Minister under a cloud, rocked the state Assembly today with LDF opposition stepping up their demand for Oommen Chandy's resignation and a judicial probe into the matter.



Asserting that the Government had nothing to hide, Chandy rejected the demand and charged the opposition with "creating a smokescreen" of false allegations after failing in their agitation against the Government.

The LDF members, who stalled question hour soon after the House began its sitting, raised the matter again at Zero Hour and rushed to the well and shouted slogans, forcing Speaker G Karthijeyan to adjourn the House for an hour.

When the House reassembled, the opposition kept up their protest and the Speaker adjourned the House for the day after rushing through the business on the agenda.

Giving a detailed statement on the charge against him, Chandy said there was no substance whatsoever in the opposition charge that he had direct link with the duo, Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan who had cheated a large number of people by promising them solar panels, installation agencies and share in wind energy farms.

Chandy, however, admitted that the "liberal and unconditional access" to his office to the public had been misused by some and two personal staff members had been removed and the case was being investigated by a special police team headed by the ADGP (South Zone).

He accused the opposition of creating a "smokescreen" by repeatedly taking up the issue in the House for the last few days despite transparent steps taken in the case.

Chandy also made it clear that no one involved would be spared in the cheating case.

Seeking to turn the tables on the opposition, he said the fraudulent deals by the company run by the duo, began its dealings during previous LDF rule and sought to know as to why no action was taken against them.

Unrelenting in the LDF stand against Chandy, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said, "The chief minister is trying to hoodwink the people and mislead the house by giving flimsy explanations."

Saritha was arrested on June 3 in connection with the cheating cases registered against her and is now in judicial custody.

Seeking leave for an adjournment on the issue, Mathew T Thomas (JD), alleged that people invested in the company floated by Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan, who is absconding, as it received 'genuineness' due to the alleged link with the Chief Minister's office.

Rejecting the charge, Chandy said company floated by the duo functioned during the previous LDF regime itself.

The probe being carried out now in the 14 cases against Saritha were registered in connection with the cheating that happened during the previous LDF rule, Chandy said.

On Thomas' allegation that Chandy had given a letter of consent to include Saritha's Solar Company in the 'Emerging Kerala Global meet' held in the state last year, Chandy said he had not given any such letter and Saritha's company was "not a project" at the Emerging Kerala meet.

He also denied opposition's allegation that he had met Saritha during the time of the National Development Committee meeting held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi in May last.

However, Chandy said he had met Biju Radhakrishnan at the Guest House in Kochi after Congress MP, M I Shanawas introduced him as a business executive, but "we talked only about the domestic affairs of Radhakrishnan."

Chandy also said during their meeting, Radhakrishnan, now wanted in connection with a cheating case and murder case, was not "declared as an absconding offender."

On the telephone calls between his office staff and the accused in the case, Chandy said, "Making telephone calls is not an offence. But, what transpired between them is more important. The probe has been ordered to find out exactly that."

CPI-M Deputy leader and former Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan wanted Chandy to order a judicial probe including the charge that previous LDF government did not take action against Saritha and Radhakrishnan.

Meanwhile, Youth outfits of CPI-M and CPI took out protest marches to the Assembly demanding Chandy's resignation and a judicial probe into the scam.
 
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