Welcoming the decision of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan to quit as CPI-M state secretary, the Congress on Friday said it would be even better if Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to steps down at the earliest.
Earlier in the day Balakrishnan’s leave was extended for further medical treatment after he expressed his desire for it and in his place, the Left Democratic Front convenor A.Vijayaraghavan was given charge of the CPI-M state secretary.
Speaking to the media, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said never in the history of the CPI-M have they been in such a position where Vijayan’s office is caught in various cases, including gold smuggling and other scams and Balakrishnan’s son in jail in an alleged drug case.
“How long have we been demanding that both Balakrishnan and Vijayan quit. Balakrishnan saying he needs leave for medical treatment is a bluff as he never sought leave when he went for treatment to the US. “Vijayan’s turn has now come and it’s better he also quits immediately, if not he will have to bow out in shame,” said Chennithala.
The Customs Department had arrested P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, on July 5 for allegedly smuggling gold in diplomatic baggage destined for the Consulate. Another former Consulate staff Swapna Suresh and her associate Sandip Nair were arrested by the National Investigation Agency from Bengaluru.
Vijayan first removed M. Sivasankar as his Principal Secretary and then as IT Secretary after it allegedly surfaced that Swapna and Sivasankar were close friends.
Trouble doubled for Vijayan after his man-Friday C.M. Ravindran, his assistant private secretary was asked to appear before the ED, but since he turned Covid positive, he is yet to appear before the ED. ED might summon more people attached to the CM office, reports say.
Two times former Congress Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that Balakrishnan could have quit much before and had he done that, the image would not have been this sullied.
“People by now have realized that all that has come up is not mere allegations, but a reality,” said Chandy.
Though Balakrishnan and Vijayan both hail from Kannur and have had the best of relations, things soured after Bineesh ran into trouble and Balakrishnan was peeved with Vijayan for failing to come to his aid. Popular media critic Jayashankar said the choice of Vijayaraghavan does not augur well as there are more seasoned veterans who were more apt for the post.
But with Balakrishnan bowing out, all eyes are on Vijayan, as he too has medical problems and was in the US for treatment and many see Balakrishnan has played a fast one and did it to put pressure on Vijayan whose former secretary is in jail and Ravindran expected to appear before ED, once he turns Covid negative.