State takes on Centre over KIIFB

The government is in direct confrontation with the Centre over Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into the Masala bonds of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and decision to summon its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) K.M. Abraham and Deputy Managing Director Vikramjit Singh for questioning.

Close on seeking the Election Commission’s intervention on the issue, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the ED for ‘misusing’ the power, violating Model Code of Conduct and attempts to create a smear campaign against the officials and State government.

‘Will not surrender’

Reiterating that the State would not ‘surrender’ to such acts of the BJP-led government for political gains, Mr. Vijayan said ‘officials fulfilling Constitutional obligations are part of the government’ and they are being harassed by misusing laws passed by Parliament.”

The officials, including women, have been subjected to harassment and ‘intemperate behaviour’, he said. “We are answerable to the people. Our tradition is not to budge to those coming to prevent fulfilment of the responsibility towards the people. We have legally moved against the earlier attempts of the Central agencies.”

Summons ignored

As per the decision taken at the highest level to confront the ED politically, Mr. Singh, an IPS officer of Kerala cadre, ignored the summons of the ED served on March 3 to be present at Kochi office on Thursday. Dr. Abraham, who is the CEO and Member Secretary, will also not appear before the ED on Friday.

The KIIFB has communicated to the ED that the CEO and the Deputy MD will not be appearing before the officials in Kochi. Official sources said the KIIFB had communicated that all they have to say on Masala bond had been conveyed to the ED sleuths in Kochi.

The KIIFB officials on Thursday had petitioned the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary V.P. Joy on their bad experience at the ED office in Kochi, sources added.

Isaac charge

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Finance Minister and KIIFB Vice Chairman T.M. Thomas Isaac said the BJP’s efforts to destroy KIIFB and destabilise Kerala’s development would get a strong reply.

“If the investigation is to know and understand the facts, we will fully cooperate with them. If you want to show lawfulness that had been floated in other States, then the ED will get a befitting reply.” Dr. Isaac said.

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