Customs affidavit strains Centre-State ties

LDF to protest in front of Customs offices, Cong. to campaign for CM’s resignation

The Customs ‘revelation’ that gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh had “stated with clarity about the smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of Hon’ble Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) and Hon’ble Speaker (P. Sreeramakrishnan)” threatened to strain the Centre-State relations further.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has seen a political plot to tarnish the government ahead of the Assembly polls. LDF activists would lay siege to Customs offices in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode on Saturday. The government had upped the ante in its political stand-off with the Centre by announcing that Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) officials would not answer the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s summons on Friday.

LDF convener A. Vijayraghavan said the Centre had resorted to underhand politics to discredit the government. The Customs was merely a cat’s paw of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The department had leaned heavily on a COFEPOSA detainee’s questionable statement to raise false allegations against the administration. It had also attempted to implicate three Cabinet ministers in the smuggling case falsely.

The CPI(M) State secretariat said the Centre’s disinformation would not befool voters. The Central agencies had in various sworn depositions merely parroted the allegations raised by the BJP and the Congress.

They had no shred of evidence against the government. The LDF’s governance record and its progressive agenda moored to welfarism, development and secularism had resonated among voters. The Congress and the BJP’s baseless charges against the government sounded like the incoherent ramblings of a paranoid, the CPI(M) said.

The Congress seemed to stoke the political bushfire ignited by the Customs’ contentious affidavit in the High Court. It would agitate across the State from March 6 demanding Mr. Vijayan’s resignation on the charge of treason. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the ED’s case against KIIFB and the Customs’ sworn statement had validated the UDF’s charges against the government. KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran termed the charges grave.

In a play on LDF’s election slogan, BJP State president K. Surendran said Mr. Vijayan and his enablers in the government would “surely end up in prison and not in government.” Sabre-rattling by the CPI(M) would not deter the Central law enforcement from pursuing the ends of justice, he said.

High Education Minister K.T. Jaleel, who faced ED and Customs questioning as part of the probe into the UAE gold smuggling case, said the BJP had brazenly used the investigation to cast the government under a cloud of suspicion. The LDF government was above board and on the right side of the law. It had no cause for concern.

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