Solar case: CM justifies decision to refer case to CBI; decision not politically motivated

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 28 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday defended the decision recommending a CBI probe into the sexual exploitation case against five Congress leaders, including Oommen Chandy, and dismissed allegations of political motive behind it.

'We have never stated that we will not refer any case to the CBI. We have sent many cases to the central agency, the latest being the Walayar case in which two minor Dalit sisters were found dead inside their home', Vijayan said when asked about the recent decision which has stoked a controversy.

The LDF government had in a surprise decision on Saturday sought a probe by the central agency into cases registered on the complaint of sexual exploitation filed by a woman prime accused in the Solar scam against Congress leaders Chandy, K C Venugopal, Hibi Eden, Adoor Prakash and A P Anil Kumar and A P Abdulla Kutty, who was earlier in the Congress and now in BJP.

Chandy has maintained that he has not done any wrong and was prepared to face any probe and accused the government of recommending CBI probe in view of the assembly elections in the state likely to be held in April or May.

The cases against the six were registered over the past several years and investigated by the Crime Branch police on a complaintby the woman accused in the multi-crore solar panel scam during the previous UDF government that she was sexually exploited by them in 2012.

Vijayan said in cases relating to custodial deaths also, the government's stand was that the CBI will probe.

The government had never taken a stand that no cases would be handed over to the central agency for investigation, he said.

In the solar case, the complainant, who had raised the allegations of sexual harassment, had recently written a letter to Vijayan seeking CBI probe as she was not satisfied with the police investigation.

'The complainant has given an application saying the case should be handed over to CBI. It is a victim's complaint. What was the other option before the government?' Vijayan asked.

There would have been criticism had the government not accepted the plea.

'The government has only accepted the victim's plea and it was the only natural thing to do. There is no political motive behind the move,' he said.

Asked about Chandy seeking apology for the three year delay in the commissioning of the Alappuzha bypass project, dedicated to the nation on Thursday, the chief minister said it was waiting for completion since the past 40 years.

After the LDF came to power in 2016, the PWD department worked fruitfully and the government intervened to ensure that it was completed.

Describing Chandy's statement as 'irresponsible', he said the project suffered some delay due to COVID-19 as many migrant workers had returned to their respective states.

On Congress appointing Chandy to head a 10-member committee for the assembly elections in the state, Vijayan said it was a matter concerning the opposition party, but added LDF would benefit from the move.

In the elections, the ruling front will approach the people with its achievements during the last five years while Chandy will have to explain what the previous government had done during his tenure, Vijayan said.PTI UD VS VS