K Sudhakaran | Photo: TK Pradeep Kumar
Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress in Kerala continued its accusations of corruption against the ruling Left government in the state and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in connection with the AI camera and K-FON projects and said it would move the court seeking a judicial probe into both.
The Motor Vehicle Department has installed 726 AI-enabled cameras to keep track of the violations of traffic rules across the state as part of the 'Safe Kerala' project. The K-FON (Kerala Fibre Optic Network) project was envisaged with the promise of providing free internet to 20 lakh families in the state.
The Congress also termed as a "smoke screen" and "feeble" the CM's defence that the accusations were false and that the documents presented by the opposition party as evidence of the alleged financial irregularities in both projects were fabricated.
The party said that the ruling LDF was ignoring the opposition's demands for a judicial inquiry as it was afraid of the outcome.
"The CM's strategy of creating a smoke screen by portraying the evidence (released by Congress) as false and fabricated will not work.
"The documents that have come out only reveal the tip of the iceberg of corruption. Only through an impartial judicial probe can more details be found," Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and MP K Sudhakaran said in a statement.
Senior Congress leader and former Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Ramesh Chennithala wrote along similar lines in a letter sent to CM Vijayan.
Chennithala said that merely terming the allegations false and the documents fabricated, the CM and the Left government could not escape from answering the questions raised regarding the alleged scam in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) camera project.
Vijayan, on Saturday, had said the opposition Congress wanted to spread fake narratives about the government to downplay the Left administration's achievements.
The Congress leaders, by attempting to create doubts about the government, are "ridiculing themselves by raising such allegations", he had said while addressing an event virtually.
On Sunday, State Transport Minister Antony Raju contended that the Congress's allegations about the AI camera project was an attempt to personally target the CM and the Left government.
He claimed that the sub-contracts, in connection with the camera project awarded by the Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (Keltron), were chosen according to the same procedure that was followed during the earlier UDF government.
Raju alleged that the entire controversy was just a fight between businessmen who had competed for the tender, and the one who lost was spreading false news, which the Congress was encouraging.
"This is politically motivated," he contended.
The minister also said that the tender was awarded back in 2020 and if there was a company that could have completed the work at a far lesser price as claimed by the Congress, then it should have moved the court.
He was responding to the Congress's claims that the documents released by it revealed that the scam was planned much ahead of the project itself and that the camera installation could have been completed for about Rs 58 crore as against the cost of Rs 232 crore that the government had incurred.
Both Congress leaders also termed as a "farce" and a "joke" the enquiry being carried out by the Principal Secretary of the Industries department into the allegations surrounding the AI camera project.
They termed the enquiry an attempt to whitewash the alleged corruption in the project.
Sudhakaran said that the CM would be held accountable for the alleged "looting of public money" to fill the pockets of some companies, and warned that besides the legal battle, Congress would spread to the streets the protests of the people who are unhappy with the project.
He said the imposition of fines on the public -- done using footage from the AI cameras -- should be shelved till the time that the allegations against the project are cleared.
The Congress has been raising corruption charges against the implementation of the 'Safe Kerala' project, which aims to reduce road accidents and traffic violations in the state, since its inauguration in April.