CBI seeks nod to prosecute CPMs Kerala unit chief

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the Kerala Governor's sanction to prosecute CPM state general secretary and Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin corruption case.

Vijayan was the power minister when the state electricity board signed a deal with SNC Lavalin Inc, a Canadian firm, for renovating three hydel projects.

The investigating agency submitted a progress report on the case to the High Court on Wednesday and revealed that it had sought the Governor's nod to prosecute a former power minister and some bureaucrats.

Addressing a CPM gathering in Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan's politburo colleague and Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the CBI had sought permission to prosecute Vijayan. "Pinarayi was falsely implicated in the case to settle scores with the CPM after the party withdrew its support to the UPA government. Similarly, BSP leader Mayawati has been facing CBI probe ever since her party parted ways with the UPA. When Mulayam Singh Yadav came forward to support the UPA, a probe initiated against him was abandoned. Pinarayi cannot be blamed if the money promised by the Canadian firm SNC Lavlin failed to reach the Malabar Cancer Centre in Thalassery. This cheap strategy to destroy the CPM and its State secretary would be addressed politically. This is an attempt to weaken the party," he said.

This is the first time that a member of the party's highest decision-making body is being chargesheeted in a corruption case.

The investigating agency has sought the Governor's permission as Vijayan is a former minister. The agency has also sought the Chief Secretary's permission to prosecute top bureaucrats who are among the list of the dozen accused.

The CPM-led Government had tried hard to avert a CBI probe. When the High Court took up two PILs seeking a CBI probe, the government brought senior Supreme Court lawyers R K Anand and C S Vaidyanathan to appear for it and argued that the case was politically motivated. The court, however, found merit in the petitioners' claim.

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