Kochi: Trouble could mount for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is facing opposition heat in the solar scam, as prime accused Saritha S Nair claimed she had met him several times and was ‘close’ to his family, contradicting Chandy’s claim that he met her only thrice, according to a report in The Indian Express.
In an interview to the paper, Saritha said she was a frequent visitor in the Chandy household and said, “I was never a stranger to him or his family. I had the freedom to enter his house anytime, the kind of freedom to enter another person’s kitchen, I was that close.”
Oommen Chandy however rubbished her claims and hit out at the media for “giving too much importance to her statements.”
Saritha on the other hand, went to great details to recall her visits to the Chief Minister’s house in Kerala and her long association with the family. She claimed that she became ‘close’ with the family soon after she was released from a six-month term in Jail in 2011. She was imprisoned over charges of cheating and her link to a solar equipment firm run by her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan.
“During that period (after 2011), I had a house at Edapazhanji near Jagathy (in Thiruvananthapuram), which was hardly two kilometres from his bungalow. When his wife (Mariamma Oommen) fell sick and was advised bed rest (in late 2011), I used to visit her. I wanted to nurse her back to health but I was busy with a lot of work. Still, I visited her whenever it was possible,” she was quoted in the report.
She also claimed that she could enter and leave the Chief Minister’s house whenever she felt like and did not have to furnish a security pass to gain access to his bungalow as everybody knew her and she called her “Lakshmi”. She added that she had eaten at their house on “many occasions”.
“There used to be a lot of visitors always… I have never seen the family having lunch or dinner together. Everyone would be busy. Whoever wanted to have food would go into the kitchen and serve themselves,” she said.
She also contradicted Chandy’s claim that he only knew her as “Lakshmi” and had no idea about her past.
The solar scam relates to the duping of several persons by S Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan, who had promised to install solar power panels for them.
Earlier, when Saritha, deposed before the Justice Sivarajan Commission, she alleged that bribe of Rs 1.90 crore had been paid to a close aide of Chandy and Rs 40 lakh to Power Minister Arayadan Mohammed for helping her 'Team Solar Company'. Both denied the allegations.
Chandy maintained that the state has not incurred even a rupee's loss due to the scam and that no undue concession had been given to the Team solar company. Government took all legal steps to bring before law the culprits behind the fraud after it came to light, he asserted.
On the charge that two Congress leaders Benny Behanan, MLA, and Thampanoor Ravi, both CM's confidants, had tried to influence Saritha, Chandy said, "The matter is before the Commission. Let it take a decision. Not only that, both leaders have reacted to the charge of Saritha."
Saritha had produced an audiotape containing telephone conversation purportedly between the two leaders and her on the issue....