As the Kerala government tabled the report of the judicial commission which indicted former CM Oommen Chandy in the solar panel scam, Congress leaders in both Kerala and Delhi admitted that it was a “severe loss of face” for the party. While some in the party believe those who figure in the report should step down from their positions, the majority view is that the report should be “politically fought”.
While former state Congress president V M Sudheeran, who has been at loggerheads with factions led by Chandy and Leader of Opposition in Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, said the report was very serious, other leaders preferred to wait and watch. Several leaders in Kerala and Delhi The Indian Express spoke to said the development is “very damaging” for the party and a “severe loss of face.”
“The judicial commission was appointed by our government. How can we junk its report? What can be our defence…what can we say?” a former Union minister said. The Congress defence is to question the credibility of Saritha S Nair, the accused in the case.
A senior leader said while the Congress can argue that there was no loss to the exchequer, allegations of sexual misconduct against some leaders were more damning. “These allegations were in the public domain for long. But now, they are part of a judicial commission report. There are two sensitive issues. One is involvement of the office of the Chief Minister and then the sexual aspect… politically difficult to defend… what is to be done legally is another matter,” a senior leader said.
A former Union minister said there is no option but to face the issue and counter the charges politically. The Congress high command, meanwhile, put up a brave face and defended Chandy. “We have always said that the LDF came to power on completely false and baseless allegations. Chandy and all other leaders named are more than willing to face any trial. We have no hesitation. They can proceed to have any fair trial in any court,” party’s communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.
“Chandy’s integrity has been beyond doubt. He is the only chief minister in Kerala who put CCTV cameras in his office so that the entire Kerala could watch and see what was happening in the Chief Minister’s chamber through the day,” he added.
He asked what prompted the LDF government to delay tabling of the report. “There is no answer… now that they have tabled the report, we reject the report in toto. But in the interest of fair play and justice, we will face any trial that takes place. Chandy and all Congress leaders will prove their innocence and I am sure the conspiracy of LDF would stand exposed.”