CBI’s move to seek Government’s consent to prosecute the accused in politically sensitive SNC Lavalin corruption case is expected to make the Lok Sabha poll campaign difficult for ruling LDF as the contract with the Canadian firm was finalised in mid-1990s when the present CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was the Power Minister.
Though the investigating agency,which filed the progress report in the case in the Kerala High Court on Wednesday,has not named the then power minister,it was Vijayan,who was the minister in-charge of the portfolio then.
This has been further reinforced by the assertion of state Home Minister and CPI-M Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan that the party would counter the heinous political move to use CBI to frame Vijayan in the case to settle political scores with the Left for withdrawing support to the Manmohan Singh Government.
The case pertained to huge loss suffered by the state and corruption allegedly involved in awarding the contract to SNC Lavalin for renovation of three hydro electric projects — Pallivasal,Changulam and Panniar.
The MoU with the Canadian firm for a consultancy contract was signed when the Congress-led UDF was in power but this was changed into equipment supply and erection contract by the LDF government in 1996.
CPM sources alleged that was it part of a clever and calculated move by the investigating agency to obtain permission from the Governor and Chief Secretary for prosecuting the accused.
This could pre-empt the accused delaying the case further by arguing that prior consent of competent authorities is required before starting prosecution proceedings since they had held constitutional or high official positions earlier.
The case comes at a time when the CPM in the state is faced with some internal problems like suspension of its Lok Sabha member from Kannur A P Abdullakutty for praising Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and rebellion in the rank and file in party strongholds like Shoranur in Palakkad and Inchiyam in Kozhikode.
The party was also getting ready for across-the-state road campaign ‘Nava Kerala’ march led by Vijayan,to gear up the party ranks for the Lok Sabha polls.