Thiruvananthapuram — On expected lines, the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet that met here on Wednesday decided to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI for conducting probes in the state.
Kerala thus joins states like West Bengal, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which had earlier withdrawn the general consent.
This was on the cards ever since the CBI arrived in the state to conduct a probe into the Life Mission project which provides homes for the homeless and is a pet project of Vijayan.
The Life Mission project at Thrissur ran into trouble soon after the now infamous gold smuggling case surfaced on July 5.
The prime accused in the gold smuggling case Swapna Suresh’s links in the Life Mission project surfaced when it was found out that a staggering sum of Rs nine crores was paid as commission from the total project cost of Rs 20 crores.
When local Congress legislator Anil Akkara wrote to the CBI about the alleged corrupt deal, the CBI took up the case, leaving Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan red faced.
With the CBI fast tracking the probe and calling senior IAS official U.V. Jose for questioning, the Congress and the BJP went hammer and tongs at the government demanding the resignation of Vijayan.
Soon the legal brains of the Vijayan government got together and approached the Kerala High Court seeking a stay on the CBI probe.
The court after hearing the Life Mission, though refusing to stay the probe, gave temporary relief and asked the CBI not to arrest any Life Mission official for two months, but allowed it to go ahead in the case where there were other parties.
Since then, Vijayan was upset and first he sought the clearance of the national leadership of his party – the CPI-M for his action and the sanction was given instantly and later he brought it before the cabinet, and that was also cleared.
Following this from now on the CBI has to take the permission of the state government for conducting a probe, but it’s not required if the probe is recommended by a court.
The consent issue however will not be applicable to cases which are already being probed.
Reacting sharply to the decision, State BJP president K. Surendran said all this is understandable as Vijayan is worried by the turn of events after the probe commenced.
“Vijayan knows the CBI probe will soon reach his doorstep including his family, so one can understand what’s going through his mind and it’s best that he remembers it’s not the Congress party which rules at the Centre. The CBI will continue to do its job in Kerala and Vijayan will not be able to do anything,” said Surendran.