UDF, LDF spar over alleged leakage of CAG report contents
Kochi: Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose's statement alleging leakage of contents of the CAG report before it was tabled in the state Assembly has created a storm with the CPM-led ruling dispensation and the Congress-led Opposition sparring over the issue on Saturday.
The state government alleged conspiracy in the political attack against it over the CAG report which had cited the role of state police chief Loknath Behara in the alleged diversion of funds violating guidelines in implementing various projects in the police department.
Reacting to this, the Congress accused the government of adopting diversionary tactics and challenged it to order a detailed investigation into the matter.
A day after the Chief Secretary issued the statement alleging the leakage, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said it was senior Congress MLA P T Thomas who had made a "planned" presentation on the contents of the report in the state Assembly.
Before tabling the CAG report in the House, P T Thomas raised matters related to its contents in the Assembly. He made a planned, smart presentation on the issues without mentioning the CAG report. That means he got the CAG report leaked. That is a clear violation of rules of House proceedings. That should be investigated," Surendran told reporters here.
The Minister said when the entire issue was analysed, it was suspected that there was a "possibility of conspiracy. There is no doubt that a conspiracy was hatched by some centres," Surendran alleged.
Hitting out at Surendran, Congress MLA P T Thomas urged him not to "play a hide-and-seek game" on the matter and "show courage" to demand a thorough investigation into the matter in the next Cabinet meeting.
He said "irregularities and corruption" in the police department were evident for those who see the things with an investigative mind and there was no need for him to get the contents of the report leaked to raise them in the Assembly.
The BJP also targeted the LDF government over the issue.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan said the Union Finance Ministry and Home Ministry would consider the matters mentioned in the CAG report seriously. He, however, said at present the matter was not officially placed before the Central government.
Muraleedharan, a senior BJP leader, also questioned the timing of DGP Behera's trip to London, saying it has to be examined whether it was a private trip or an official tour.
The report, which came up before the house on February 12, had found 25 INSAS rifles and over 12,000 cartridges missing from the Special Armed Police battalion here and came down on the police chief for diversion of funds, violating guidelines.
In a statement on Friday night, the Chief Secretary had said that in the normal course, after the report is tabled in the house, the media and others get it.
"But this time even before it was tabled, there were doubts that some contents of the report had been leaked. In the name of the CAG report, indulging in character assassination was not a good precedent", the Chief Secretary had said.
He had said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the assembly would be examining the report, which is regarding the activities of two governments from April 2013 to March 2018.
Pointing out that there were specific guidelines to take action based on CAG findings, the Chief Secretary had said it was the violation of democratic propriety to put the officer under media trial.
Tom Jose, who was criticised by a section of the media for allegedly using a luxury car of the police department, has said that as the head of various government departments, it was not wrong for the chief secretary to use the vehicle of any department and it was not illegal.
Police had on Thursday maintained that no rifles were missing as the crime branch probe had not revealed any missing INSAS rifles.