A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) asked the chief of Kerala’s flagship programme KIIFB and his deputy to appear before it, state Finance Minister Thomas Issac on Wednesday went hammer and tongs after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“She is leading from the front and using her officials for political needs. What’s happening is a clear violation of the election norms. We are not going to be cowed down by such intimidatory tactics. The conspiracy of the ED against the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has been going on for a while. Does anyone know that the head of the ED in Kerala — Manish — is the son of a top BJP leader from Rajasthan,” Issac asked.
“I wish to make it very clear that strong resistance will be put up against the present arm twisting tactics of the ED. Please do not see people here as an extension of the Congress party in Rajasthan. We will deal with ED with the help of the people. ED is out to play spoilsport to the development plans of Kerala and we will strongly resist any move to put our officials under duress,” added Issac.
KIIFB is a government-owned financial institution formed to mobilise funds for infrastructure development from outside the state revenue, and numerous projects are assigned funds from the KIIFB.
KIIFB had gone ahead by floating masala bonds following which the ED has registered a case against it under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), a move that has irked Issac .
Incidentally, while taking part in a rally of state BJP President K. Surendran in Kochi last week, Sitharaman had slammed Issac for the role of KIIFB in his state budget and even pointed out the remarks the CAG had made.
With the crucial Assembly polls scheduled to be held on April 6 and the CPI-M led Left government making every effort to ensure it retains power, the coming days will tell to what extent the war of words between the BJP and the CPI-M top brass will go. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Kerala later this week.