Opposition targets LDF after arrest of Bineesh; CPIM rejects demands for Vijayan's resignation

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(Eds: Updates with CM's quotes) (Minor edit in intro) Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 29 (PTI) The Congress and BJP on Thursday stepped up their attack on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after the ED arrested CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan's son Bineesh Kodiyeri, as they alleged anti-national activities were being carried out under the Left front rule in the state.

The CPI-M led Left Democratic Front suffered twin blows as the arrest of Bineesh in a money laundering case linked to a drug seizure in Karnataka came a day after the Enforcement Directorate took into custody suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar in the gold smuggling case.

Bineesh, who has essayed roles in few malayalam films, was arrested in Bengaluru after he was summoned for a third time for questioning in connection with his alleged links with an accused in the Bengaluru drug case, busted by the Narcotic Control Bureau recently.

The central agency's move comes following charges of links between a key accused in the gold smuggling case in Kerala and a prime accused in the drug racket.

Following the arrests, the Congress and BJP went hammer and tongs against the government demanding the resignation of Vijayan and Balakrishnan and also took out protest marches.

CPI(M) Central committee member M Govindan Master said there was no question of Vijayan's resignation, while the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) said Bineesh was not a member of the Marxist party and it was not responsible for his deeds.

Vijayan refused to take any questions on thearrest of Bineesh, which came amid the opposition turning the heat on the government over the gold smuggling case, but read out from a prepared text his reaction on Sivasankar's arrest.

He asserted that his government will neither tolerate any sort of corruption nor protect any corrupt person.

Sivasankar had been removed from the post of IT secretary and his Principal Secretary after reports emerged suggesting that the IAS officer had links with a prime accused in the gold smuggling case and a departmental enquiry is underway, the chief minister said.

'The state government, which had sought a comprehensive probe,is of the strong opinion that corruption, tax evasion and the country's economic crimes should be combated at all costs.

'The government has demanded that cases be registered in accordance with the prevailing laws of the country and those involved in such acts be brought before the courts of justice', Vijayan said.

The government was not responsible for the relationships or personal involvement of an officer in the All India Service. Action has been taken when it was found that it affected the government.

So there was no need to attack the government in the name of Sivasankar, Vijayan said, adding his was not a political appointment.

'The former IT secretary was not known to him until the government was formed. There was no need to doubt an official, who was appointed to the office of Chief Minister, and had previously held various responsible positions. It's been repeatedly stated that his was a political appointment. The party does not recommend anyone to any post', he added.

CPI-M secretary Sitaram Yechury asserted the arrest of Bineesh would not affect the party, saying Balakrishnan has made it clear that the law will take its course.

Balakrishnan had earlier this month made it clear that the party was not responsible for the deeds of Bineesh and said the probe agencies can take any action if his son wasfound guilty.

Chennithala, the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, said with the arrests the state government andthe party were 'now under custody'.

'Kerala is ruled by a gang of robbers. This is a total disgrace to Kerala. The party and the government are working together to carry out mafia activities in the state.

'Under the patronage of the CPI-M and the Pinarayi government, anti-national activities are being carried out in the state. The latest example of this is the arrest of the son of the party state secretary in a drug case,' he alleged, while talking to reporters here.

BJP state chief K Surendran said the allegation against Bineesh was that he arranged funds for the drug mafia and said the communist party should answer these matters 'politically and morally'.

Talking about the gold smuggling case, Vijayan said as in the past, this government has not been willing to place conscience above a court of law.

That was the core difference between the previous Congress headed UDF government and the current LDF regime in their approach towards corruption, he said.

Hitting out at the opposition, the chief minister said efforts were being made to link the state government and the CM's office to the case.

Currently, the Customs,Enforcement Directorate, CBI and the Income Tax department are probing the matter. Let the investigations continue independently, he said.

Pointing that the government was not responsible for any personal transactions made by Sivasankar and had no legal or moral responsibility in this, he maintained his government had not tried to protect any offender at any stage.

It was the Congress which had been alleging that the union government was using the probe agencies and even its leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had expressed this publically, he said and wanted the state leadership of the opposition party to make its stand clear.

The arrests have hit the ruling Left front as it is gearing up for the local body polls and assembly elections due in December and early next year respectively.

Central agencies -- National Investigation Agency, Customs and the Enforcement Directorate - are conducting separate inquiries into the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a diplomatic baggage at the international airport here on July 5. PTI RRT LGK UD VS VS VS VS