ED ‘Knocks’ on Door of Kerala CM Vijayan’s Office, Asks Close Aide to Appear on Monday

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C.M. Ravindran, the assistant private secretary to Vijayan, has been asked to appear in the probe into bribery in the Vijayan government's pet "Life Mission" project - intended to provide homes to the poor who lost their houses in the devastating floods of 2018.

KOCHI — The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday served notice to a close aide of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, asking him to appear before them at their office here on Monday.

C.M. Ravindran, the assistant private secretary to Vijayan, has been asked to appear in the probe into bribery in the Vijayan government’s pet “Life Mission” project – intended to provide homes to the poor who lost their houses in the devastating floods of 2018.

Ravindran has been asked to appear soon after the ED arrested Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M. Sivasankar after questioning him for three days. Sivasankar’s ED custody ends on Friday and it is that time Ravindran has been asked to appear.

Though only an assistant private secretary, Ravindran is said to be the last word in the office of Vijayan. Chat messages between him and gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna Suresh, who is also an accused in the Life Mission bribery case, have surfaced showing that the two were extremely close.

Vijayan had categorically denied the role of his office when this issue surfaced in 2020.

The ED had questioned then Life Mission CEO – now retired IAS official U.V. Jose, who, according to sources in the know of things, told probe officials that he had no clue of the agreement in the Life Mission’s Wadakancherry project.

Prior to this, the ED also questioned Venugopala Iyer, a chartered accountant close to Sivasankar and one who held a joint locker with Swapna Suresh from which the ED recovered Rs 1 crore.

The money to build the project came from a charity organisation based in the UAE and Jose had no clue of the details of the project, but all what he got was a few hours to go through the contract details and sign it.

The statements of both Jose and Iyer and the chat messages of Ravindran and Swapna Suresh indicate Ravindran’s role and Swapna Suresh had also claimed that if he is questioned, then Vijayan and his family’s involvement will be known.

Now all eyes are on Ravindran as in 2020, when he was served a notice to appear before a central agency probe in the gold smuggling case, he was hospitalised and then turned Covid positive and later only, turned up before the probe team and it remains to be seen if he will appear on Monday. — IANS

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