Swapna Suresh | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Thiruvananthapuram: Seeking to counter gold smuggling case prime accused Swapna Suresh's latest claim about her once-close connections with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family, the CMO on Wednesday released a two-year-old video in which he was seen saying that she had visited his official residence here several times along with the then UAE Consulate General for official purpose.
The short video, released by the Chief Minister's Office in its social media handle, has two parts- Suresh's Tuesday's threat to expose CM's 'lie' that he did not know her and the CM's old statement admitting that he knew her as a Consulate staff. The Marxist veteran had given the statement as a reply to a question during a press meet on October 13, 2020 at a time when the gold smuggling case had cropped up as a political controversy for the first time during the time of his previous government.
In the video clip, a scribe could be heard asking him whether Suresh had visited Cliff House, his official residence here, several times and Vijayan was seen replying without any hesitation that she had come many times along with the Consulate General for various official purposes including to invite him for the programmes of the UAE Consulate, located in the state capital. "Whenever the Consulate General had made a visit at the Cliff House, she had accompanied him as his secretary. There is nothing unnatural for a Chief Minister to meet a Consulate General," he had said. When the reporter again asked whether he had introduced senior IAS officer M Sivasaknar, who was then his principal secretary, as the point of contact for the matters related to the Consulate, Vijayan said he did not remember clearly but there was nothing amusing about it even if he had said so as he was his secretary.
The CMO came up with the old video, a day after Swapna Suresh told the media that when she was in jail, Vijayan had said that he did not know this "controversial woman". Alleging that the Chief Minister had "lied", Suresh said she had met Vijayan and his family members several times at the Cliff House and discussed several matters on which actions were taken. She also said if Vijayan had forgotten all that, she would remind him through the media when it was necessary.
The sensational gold smuggling case that had rocked Kerala before the Assembly polls last year, has returned to haunt the ruling LDF with prime accused in the case, Swapna Suresh recently levelling certain serious allegations against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his family members and some top bureaucrats. Suresh was released from jail in November last year, 16 months after her arrest in the sensational gold smuggling case.
A former employee of the UAE Consulate here, she was taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with another accused Sandeep Nair from Bengaluru on July 11, 2020. The NIA, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs conducted a separate probe into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.
Several people, including M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and another ex-employee of the UAE Consulate here, Sarith P S, were arrested in connection with the case.