Pinarayi Vijayan | Photo: Akhil ES|Mathrubhumi
Thiruvananthapuram: It's game on in Kerala as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, known for showing no mercy to his detractors, has struck first blood with the arrest of former PWD Minister and senior legislator of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), V.K. Ebrahim Kunju, in the Palarivattom flyover collapse case.
Now all eyes are on the CM to see if he will go forward and take on the Congress leaders who have been named in a sexual exploitation case, which came up along with the solar scam in 2015 and 2016.
While Ebrahim Kunju was arrested on Wednesday, his party colleague and legislator M.C. Kamrudeen is already in jail after investors complained that his business venture cheated them.
Another IUML legislator who is presently facing the heat is the firebrand K.M. Shaji, a known critic of Pinarayi Vijayan. The investigating agencies are after him in a case of taking bribe for sanctioning courses in a school in his constituency.
But what's being keenly watched is the sexual exploitation case filed by the 'victim' against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, AICC General Secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal, Lok Sabha members Adoor Prakash and Hibi Eden, and legislator A.P. Anil Kumar -- all from the Congress -- and former Congress MP and present BJP national Vice-President A.P. Abdullakutty.
While the case was taken up by Pinarayi Vijayan a few years back, few senior police officers who were tasked with going forward with the cases against these top brass had backed out, putting the matter on the back burner.
Last month, another old case re-surfaced after a bar owner alleged that huge sums of money were paid to then state Congress President Ramesh Chennithala, who's the present Leader of Opposition, and two former state cabinet ministers, V.S. Sivakumar, presently a legislator, and K. Babu, both Congress leaders.
The vigilance department is probing the allegation, and it remains to be seen if Pinarayi Vijayan gives the nod to go after all these top leaders of the Congress.
Pinarayi Vijayan is facing attacks from the Congress and the BJP ever since his secretary and senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the gold smuggling case. Sivasankar is presently cooling his heels in jail
The CPI-M is also nursing anger against the Congress after its state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had to resign after his younger son was arrested by the Bengaluru unit of the ED and is presently under the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau. Balakrishnan junior's friend and business associate was earlier picked up by the NCB in August.
The anger of the CPI-M came out when the present secretary and Left Front convenor, A. Vijayaraghavan, said a week back in public that very soon a dozen opposition legislators will have to cool their heels in jail.
Chennithala, after hearing the news of Ebrahim Kunju's arrest, warned the Pinarayi Vijayan government and also the officials who are trying to put opposition legislators under duress.
"With the Pinarayi Vijayan government's face completely disfigured on account various scams, he is trying to get back at the opposition by arresting legislators. Vijayaraghavan himself had publicly announced that several opposition legislators would be in jail. All those who are trying to discredit the opposition should be aware that there are laws and regulations and anyone who tries to break them will have to pay a heavy price," said Chennithala.
On his part, Vijayaraghavan said that Ebrahim Kunju's arrest was not an overnight decision as the case was under investigation for a long time, and no rule was violated in making the arrest.