A week after the opposition UDF kicked off its campaign for the upcoming Kerala civic body elections with the slogan ‘One vote against corruption’, an IUML MLA who was the PWD minister under the previous UDF government was arrested in a corruption case on Wednesday.
V K Ibrahim Kunju was arrested by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) in a case related to the construction of a flyover along the national highway in Kochi. He was arrested from a private hospital in Kochi a day after he was admitted and was later remanded to judicial custody.
LDF convener and Kerala CPI(M) acting secretary V Vijayaraghavan justified the arrest, calling it a “judicious decision” taken after “completing all formalities”.
The flyover in Kochi was shut in May 2019, three years after it was opened to the public, after developing cracks. Built at an initial cost of Rs 42 crores, the bridge was partially demolished for reconstruction, currently underway at a cost of Rs 20 crore. The VACB registered a case in August 2019. Kunju is the fifth accused in the case. The Governor in February sanctioned his prosecution.
Kunju is the second IUML legislator to be arrested this month. M C Kamaruddin was earlier arrested for allegedly cheating investors in his now-shuttered jewellery showroom chain.
The IUML leadership said Kunju’s arrest was politically motivated. Party general secretary P K Kunhalikutty said the former minister was arrested by the CPI(M) government to “balance” the arrest of M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, in the gold smuggling case.
Senior Congress leader and former CM Oommen Chandy said the arrest was meant to divert public attention. “The UDF had only completed 70 per cent of the bridge construction. The remaining 30 percent of work was done during the present regime.”
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