Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy faced fresh allegations Wednesday in the “solar scam” with the prime accused deposing before a judicial panel that he had paid Rs 5.5 crore as bribe to the Congress leader.
Biju Radhakrishnan also claimed that he had “visuals” to show Chandy and five others — ministers A P Anil Kumar and Shibu Baby John, Kumar’s personal secretary Nazeerulla, Congress MLA Hybi Eden and Congress leader Aryadan Shoukkath — had links to the other main accused in the scam Saritha S Nair.
Radhakrishnan was Saritha’s live-in partner until both were arrested in 2013 for allegedly duping investors from whom they collected crores for a solar power project.
In his statement to the one-member commission of retired High Court judge G Sivarajan, Radhakrishnan alleged that he had paid Rs 5.1 crore directly to Chandy, as suggested by the Chief Minister’s then security guard Salim Raj, and the rest to his personal staff at the time.
Radhakrishnan is currently undergoing life imprisonment in connection with the murder of his wife Rashmi in 2006.
Radhakrishnan alleged that after Nair was arrested, he had met Chandy and showed him the “visuals” that showed her with the two ministers and the others. “The visuals of the five persons were shown to the Chief Minister. Since the sixth person was Chandy himself, that visual was not shown,” he told the commission.
Radhakrishnan also alleged that Chandy promised to allot his company 70 acres of land at a government-owned industrial estate in Palakkad on the promise that the Chief Minister would receive 40 per cent of all profits.
Radhakrishnan claimed that he had contacted Chandy through the Chief Minister’s personal staff while he was hiding in Coimbatore after the scam first came to light. Following his arrest, Chandy rushed a businessman Thomas Kondody to jail to “settle” the case, he claimed.
By late evening, only Saritha Nair had reacted to the allegations, challenging Radhakrishnan to reveal evidence of her relationship with Chandy. “I have seen Chandy as a fatherly figure. It is heinous to raise such an allegation. I will take legal action against Biju. I will appear before the commission on December 7 and reveal all financial dealings in the solar issue. I have not seen Shoukkath, but know Shibu Baby John as a minister,’’ said Nair.
The allegations come at an awkward time for Chandy and the ruling Congress-led UDF coalition with the assembly elections a few months away.
As The Indian Express reported on November 10, Chandy also faces allegations of having tried to “interfere” in the bar bribery case against his key alliance partner K M Mani.
Chandy denied the allegations but Mani later resigned as finance minister following adverse court remarks in the case in which he allegedly accepted a bribe to help reopen over 400 bar-hotels that were labelled as “sub-standard” by the government.
In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party rejected the latest allegations against Chandy.
“It is nothing but filthy and ugly muck being spread with a view to malign the Chief Minister. This is nothing but the unleashing of the lowest-level political revenge in view of the upcoming elections,” Surjewala told The Indian Express.
After the allegations first surfaced in 2013, Chandy was forced to sack his long-time personal assistants T Joppen and Jikkumon Jacob, and Raj, after their role in the scam became evident. Among them, Joppen is an accused in one of the cases pertaining to the solar scam. Raj is also facing a CBI probe in cases related to an alleged land-grabbing incident.
Radhakrishnan told the commission that Chandy’s office had a role to play in the rise and fall of his company Team Solar, which collected money from investors after promising to make them partners in their clean energy project and supply them with solar panels.
The initial ambit of the Justice G Sivarajan Commission, constituted in October 2013, was to examine faults, if any, in handling complaints in connection with the solar scam and related financial dealings.
In November 2014, the commission said it would bring within the ambit of its probe all allegations levelled against Chandy, his office and the then home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.