New Delhi: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday came under fire with the opposing Congress party demanding his resignation over the gold smuggling case involving the former PRO of the UAE consulate, Swapna Suresh. Also Read - NIA Busts Major Terror Module, Arrests 9 Suspected Al-Qaeda Operatives For 'Plotting Attacks on Vital Installations'
“Yesterday the chief minister said the government did not appoint Swapna Suresh. She was paid more than Rs 1.50 lakh as salary and given a plum post. How can anyone believe she was appointed without the knowledge of IT and CMO’s top brass,” asked vehemently Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala. Also Read - Kozhikode Plane Crash: Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre Over Runway Safety
“The UDF (United Democratic Front) is demanding the resignation of CM Pinarayi Vijayan. In the high profile gold smuggling case, CMO got involved to save accused Swapna Suresh. CM’s principal secretary was asked to step down due to his links with her. CM shared closed relation with her,” he alleged. Also Read - Selfie Tragedy in Kerala: Toddler Drowns on Alappuzha Beach As Mother Clicks Selfie With Him
Chennithala, who is also the leader of the opposition in Kerala Assembly, last evening wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to hand over the recent gold smuggling case in the state to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), adding that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, too, “shouldn’t be spared”.
“If anyone listens to CM’s press meet yesterday, it’s evident that the CM is trying to protect Swapna Suresh & M Sivasankar. He ousted Sivasankar as he suspects that investigation may lead to him,” he said.
The Congress leader told reporters that the CM’s office should also be involved in the ambit of CBI probe, alleging that the chief minister has always shielded his close aides like his former principal secretary.
“Whenever any corruption charges and issues were raised by the opposition, including that of Sprinklr deal and Bevco app, CM was shielding this IAS official,” Chennithala said referring to CM Vijayan’s principal secretary M Sivasankar.
“Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the placement agency that appointed Swapna Suresh in the IT department. CM is trying to put the blame on the placement agency, the woman in question faced criminal case and intelligence had blacklisted her,” he said in the press briefing.
Sivasankar was removed from his post on Monday, taking the first crucial wicket in the Kerala gold smuggling case, followed by principal secretary IT Swapna Suresh who is currently on the run.
Mir Muhammad Ali has been appointed as the new principal secretary to the Chief Minister.
The controversy pertains to the discovery of over 30 kg gold, worth nearly Rs 30 crore, from a ‘diplomatic baggage’ at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, on Sunday. Sarith Kumar, who claimed have worked with the UAE Consulate-General, was arrested. During his interrogation, he is reported to have told the Customs about Swapna, bringing the chief minister under the scanner.
However, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has said he is ready for any probe and it is the Centre’s call to decide which agency should probe the money laundering case.
The customs department in Trivandrum will now interrogate the attache to whom the controversial diplomatic consignment was addressed.