Kochi: Former Public Works minister of Kerala V.K Ebrahim Kunju was arrested by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) in connection with the Palarivattom flyover scam. The VACB team recorded the former minister’s arrest at a private hospital in the city where he is undergoing medical treatment. Kunju, a senior IUML (Indian Union Muslim League) leader was quizzed by the anti-graft agency three times in February this year.
Though the VACB officials reached the former minister’s house at Aluva in the outskirts of Kochi to take him into custody, he was not there. The officials were told that Kunju was sick for the last two days and was admitted in a private hospital. Later, the VACB team recorded the arrest at the hospital. According to reports, further measures will be taken after consulting with the doctors and assessing his health condition.
Earlier, former PWD secretary T.O Sooraj was arrested by the VACB in connection with the scam. Kunju was arraigned in the case based on the statement given by Sooraj.
Palarivattom flyover in Kochi, constructed during the UDF regime at a cost of Rs 48 crore and commissioned in 2016 turned to be a symbol of corruption with the alleged political and bureaucratic involvement. The flyover has to be reconstructed years after major structural damages were found. The bridge had to be closed for more than a year and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has recently started the reconstruction works.
When the gold smuggling case has dented the image of ruling LDF, the surprising arrest of the former minister and senior IUML leader will turn to be a strong political tool against the UDF during the ensuing local body elections. Pushed to the wall over a series of allegations in the gold smuggling case, the CPM was in deep trouble. The arrest of Kunju will give the party an opportunity to counter the UDF’s allegations during the election campaign.