Thiruvananthapuram: Politically, the Solar case is an unmitigated disaster for the Congress-led UDF, already in disarray for want of dynamic leadership. Allies might eye greener pastures as Justice K Sivarajan Commission’s recommendations, the SIT probe and resultant prosecution will lend ammunition for the LDF well into the next Assembly elections.
However, Congressmen are worried, though in varying degrees of factional loyalty, that a ruthless investigative mechanism can invoke IPC 375 against Mr Chandy and 10 others.
In political twilight, Oommen Chandy, a veteran of more than five decades of public service, is in for harshest winter as the judicial commission has hauled him up on allegations of corruption, rape, modesty outrage and molestation by a woman, who is herself accused in 32 cheating cases and convicted in one.
Perhaps the LDF government could not have acted differently, saddled with the exhaustive report of the preliminary fact-finding commission, set up under the Commission of Inquiries Act.
Even Congressmen admit that Mr Chandy’s office during the UDF was porous and the CM had adopted an unhelpful approach to early warnings of wrongdoings by aides. “Strange, why a politician, who had invested so much in his final innings, should have lowered guard”, says a Left sympathiser.
Insiders say they had warned the now tainted ministers against the advancing tsunami but were drunk with power that they ignored the alert.
By default, a major beneficiary of the Solar prosecution will be Mr M M Hassan. He will stop “acting” and be a regular KPCC president as the scam has sullied both the A and I factions.
Former KPCC president K. Muraleedharan, MLA, says, “This is vendetta politics. Oommen Chandy had never resorted to such low politics. If he was not restrained in the T.P. Chandrsekharan assassination probe, the CPM would have it difficult to remain in one piece”.
There is no mention of a politician about whom Saritha’s ex-husband Biju Radhakrishan had complained to Mr Chandy at Kochi Guest House.
Sources say Ms Saritha Nair, who used to refer to Mr Chandy in filial terms, was furious after he sought to expose her allegedly dubious biz model. It was left to her counsel, B.A. Aloor, to shoot the question, “Did you provoke her to have oral sex on you” at the last hearing.
His counsel objected but Mr Chandy pleaded time, saying he wanted to answer an allegation doing the rounds for three years: “In 50 years of public life I’ve always been in the midst of the people. If I had a dark side, I would have been stoned by now”.
There are reports of CPM contemplating yet another appeal in the palmolein case to fix Mr Chandy though he had been cleared in previous probes. Questions are also being raised against the claim by Saritha Nair in a magazine interview that CPM central committee member E.P. Jayarajan had offered her Rs 10 crore to name UDF politicians.
Former minister T.K. Hamza’s claim at a meeting in Vengara that six UDF leaders will soon be hauled up in Solar case smacks of prejudice.
A speedy probe should restore public confidence in the fight against corruption. This puts the onus on the LDF Government, which must be fair and be seen to fair. Its commitment to cleanup of high places and streamlining of the administration will be lauded if it purses the serious charges than play to the gallery.
“Finally we are all dead”, possibly absolved of sins. But till then, quite a long way off like in the palomlein and Lavalin cases still mired in litigation, dramatis personae in Solar case are under a cloud. The sooner the case is prosecuted the better for the State. The State still has not found a long-standing credible mechanism to prosecute the corrupt since Lok Ayukta remains virtually defunct.
It will be years before the dust settles on the Solar litigation but images of principal characters, whether innocent or culpable, will remain etched in public psyche.
Dewan to head SIT
Cabinet on Wednesday constituted special investigation team headed by DGP Rajesh Dewan to probe the criminal cases in connection with the solar fraud. The other members of SIT are; Dinendra Kashyap, IGP Police Headquarters, P.B. Rajeevan SP crime branch Kozhikode, E.S. Bijumon DySP Vigilance SIU (I) Thiruvananthapuram, A Shah Nawaz , DySP, CBCID, Thiruvanant-hapuram and B Radhak-rishna Pillai, DySP SBCID, Kollam Detachment.
The SIT has been entrusted to probe charges which are of serious nature. It will probe the allegations of bribery against former chief minister Oommen Chandy and his close aides who have been accused of similar charge.
The panel will probe the allegations against former home minister Thiruvanchoor Radha-krishnan who according to the commission had tried to save Chandy from criminal charges by misusing his position. Besides, he also tried to influence the investigating officers to protect the main accused.
All allegations against former power minister Aryadan Mohammad including the charge that he had gone out of the way to help Saritha’s firm Team Solar would also be investigated by the SIT.
The role of former chief of SIT A Hemachandran and other senior police officers will also be looked into by the new team. It has also been mandated with the task of receiving fresh complaints, petitions and evidence, if any, in connection with the solar fraud case. All these would be taken up for investigations depending on their merit.