With Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan government feeling the heat as numerous central agencies probe the gold smuggling case and allegations of corruption in the Life Mission housing project, the CPI-M has withdrawn from TV news debates on these topics.
As a result, anchors of prime time debates on various channels on Sunday night said no leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, which heads the ruling Left Democratic Front, would be present. Their place was taken by party sympathisers, who found it hard to counter the allegations levelled by representatives of the Congress and the BJP.
However, even after the CPI-M secretariat meeting on Saturday when party Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan blamed the corporatisation of the media for its attack on the party, the government and party leaders said the party is prepared for a discussion with the media.
However, matters seem to have changed after news surfaced on Sunday that Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in both cases, had, in her statement to the Enforcement Directorate, claimed that she had met Vijayan at his official residence here and it was he who had introduced her to senior IAS official and his key aide M.Sivasankar when the top UAE Consulate official had come calling.
On Monday, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, while inaugurating a statewide protest to demand Vijayan’s resignation, recalled an old statement of the Chief Minister that that the entire CCTV system at his official residence has been damaged by lightning.
“You should all remember that it was an off-the-cuff statement and came without no one asking him. Now we all know that he made this statement because he knew he would be caught as the epicentre of all the corrupt deals was his residence and Swapna was there,” he alleged.
On the CPI-M’s decision to stay away from TV debates, he said: “It is surprising that the CPI-M has pulled out from all TV debates with effect from last night. They first boycotted Asianet TV and now all channels. All know that they took this decision as it has become increasingly difficult for them to justify the wrong deeds that has taken place under Vijayan and hence, the best decision is to keep away. But the people now know everything what all these scandals are about and the truth.”
A Congress leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that when in 2015-16, then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was embroiled in the infamous solar scam, it was the very same CPI-M leaders then went hammer and tongs against him.
“At that time, did we ever hear any CPI-M leader say what the TV channels were discussing the same thing over and over again and it was an overdose. The intolerance of the CPI-M is worth mentioning, as they can accuse anyone of anything, but no one should say anything about them. What they did then is coming back heavily on them now,” the leader said.