The Congress high command on Thursday directed its party workers in Kerala not to make any public utterances on the solar scam, a day after the Pinarayi Vijayan government decided to initiate a criminal and vigilance probe against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others in the Rs 7 million case. The party high command has asked its senior leaders including Chandy, State Congress president M.M. Hassan, Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala and V.M. Sudheeran to reach Delhi for a meeting with party Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday afternoon. The Congress party in Kerala over the years has been headed by factional leaders — with the current and majority faction led by Chandy and the other by Chennithala. In the solar scam, a majority of those to be proceeded against belong to the Chandy faction. Based on the legal opinion that the state government received in the solar scam judicial probe report, Vijayan on Wednesday said criminal, corruption and even a rape case against Chandy, former ministers Aryadan Mohammed, Adoor Prakash, A.P. Anil Kumar and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan would be registered.
The others named in the case are legislator Hibi Eden, former MLAs Benny Behanan, P.C. Vishnunath, Thampanoor Ravi, Lok Sabha members Jose K. Mani and K.C. Venugopal, former union minister Palanimanickam and party office bearer N. Subramanian. All those named in the case belong to the Congress, except for Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani). Meanwhile, Chandy in his Facebook post on Thursday said the judicial probe was based on a set of terms of reference and it appears there has been a deviation from that. “Since the report is still not available in the public domain, vindictive actions based on the report have started to tarnish people. We have through the RTI sought a copy of the report and once that is received, further action would be taken,” said Chandy.
Addressing reporters in Kottayam on Thursday, Radhakrishnan termed the state government’s move as nothing but political vendetta. State Police chief Loknath Behra told reporters here that once he gets the official order, by Friday, the probe would begin. The allegations regarding the multi-crore solar energy investment fraud that rocked the Chandy government in 2013 were led by Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan. Nair had alleged she was sexually exploited by several political leaders. The probe decision was announced by Vijayan after the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday, based on the recommendations of the Solar Scam Commission report submitted by Justice (retd) G. Sivarajan in September.
A Special Investigation Team led by Director General of Police Rajesh Diwan has been set up to investigate the cases. The case broke out in June 2013 during Chandy’s rule (2011-16) after reports surfaced that three staffers in the Chief Minister’s Office had contacts with a couple who cheated many investors of money after promising to supply solar panels to them.