Congress, CPI-M spar, Vijayan tightlipped over SNC Lavalin case

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Thiruvananthapuram, July 29 (IANS) A day after the CBI stand in the Supreme Court that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should face trial in the SNC Lavlin case, his party (CPI-M) on Sunday maintained he was innocent while he himself remained tightlipped.

An agreement was inked with Canadian firm SNC Lavalin in 1997, when Vijayan was the Kerala Power Minister, for the renovation and modernisation of Pallivasai, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects in Idukki district, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 266 crore to the exchequer.

Communist Party of India-Marxist State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told the media on Sunday that “it (development) is nothing but the handiwork of both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party”.

“… these two parties have raised it yet again to make it a campaign issue in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Vijayan is innocent. Just as he came out unscathed in the Kerala High Court, he will come clean in the Supreme Court too,” said Balakrishnan.

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The CBI on Saturday filed an affidavit and questioned the discharge of Vijayan and two others, saying the High Court orders in this regard was “not correct”.

The CBI had moved the apex court to challenge the High Court’s August 23, 2017, order discharging Vijayan, K. Mohanachandran, former Principal Secretary in Department of Power, and A. Francis, then department Joint Secretary. The High Court had given the go-ahead for the trial of the remaining three accused, who are Kerala State Electricity Board officials.

State Congress President M.M. Hassan told the media on Sunday that in 2006, the then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had referred the case to the CBI, describing it as “one of the biggest corruption scams.”

“With Saturday’s development, it has now turned true what the Congress and the United Democratic Front leaders had always said — it is a corrupt deal and is one of the biggest setbacks for Vijayan. When Vijayan was discharged by the High Court, there was a huge celebration. But now, things will change for him,” said Hassan.

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Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said that what happened in the Supreme Court is a legal matter and it’s amusing to say that the Congress has any role in the development.

The case will now come up for hearing on August 17.

–IANS

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