People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 4

February 01, 2009


Political Manipulation Of CBI

Political Commentator

THE Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought sanction from the governor of Kerala for prosecuting Pinarayi Vijayan, secretary of the Kerala state committee of the CPI(M) and former minister for electricity under the LDF government in Kerala. The steps taken by the CBI to prosecute Pinarayi Vijayan is politically motivated and meant to denigrate the prestige of the Party. Pinarayi Vijayan was minister for electricity from 1996 till 1998 during the period of LDF government headed by E K Nayanar. Pinarayi Vijayan resigned from the ministry when he became the state secretary of the Kerala state committee of the CPI(M).

This is the second time that the agreement of the Kerala State Electricity Board with the SNC Lavlin, a Canadian engineering and consultancy firm, has been raked up on the eve of elections to attack the CPI(M) and the state secretary. The whole history of the case and the contradictory stands taken by the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, the UPA government at the centre and the CBI expose their political motive.

On March 6, 2003, when the UDF government was in power, it referred the agreement with the SNC Lavlin to the Vigilance Department. The Vigilance Department, after conducting detailed enquiries, filed a report to the UDF government headed by Congress leader Oomen Chandy on February 10, 2006. It was categorically stated in the report that Pinarayi Vijayan cannot be held responsible for any lapses on this matter. When the UDF government found that the report of the Director of Vigilance did not suit their political game, they decided to remove the Vigilance Director from the post and refer the matter to the CBI on March 1, 2006 – just on the eve of assembly elections. Using the cabinet decision to refer the matter to the CBI, a malicious campaign was launched against the Party and Pinarayi Vijayan during the election period.

There was a Public Interest Litigation pending before the Kerala High Court seeking CBI inquiry into the matter during this period. The Oomen Chandy government had filed an affidavit in the High Court on February 7, 2006 declaring that CBI inquiry was not necessary since the state Vigilance Department was investigating the case. The same government changed its position after receiving the vigilance report on February 10, 2006 and decided to go for a CBI enquiry on March 1. The change in position in a matter within 20 days exposes the ulterior political motives of the UDF government.

The central government sought the views of the CBI on the request of the UDF government seeking CBI inquiry into the matter. The CBI decided that since the state Vigilance Department had already conducted a thorough investigation into the case, it need not take up the case. But, on the basis of a Public Interest Litigation filed in the High Court, the High Court sought the state government’s response to the demand for CBI inquiry. The LDF ministry took a decision on December 4, 2006 to file an affidavit before the High Court agreeing with the views of the CBI that no fresh inquiry was needed on the matter. However, the High Court ordered that the case be inquired into by the CBI. Now the CBI has filed its report and has sought sanction from the governor of Kerala for prosecuting Pinarayi Vijayan. The matter is pending before the governor for a final decision.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the renovation and modernisation of the power plants with the SNC Lavlin firm was signed on August 10, 1995 under the leadership of G Karthikeyan who was the minister for electricity in the UDF government. The consultancy agreement was signed on February 24, 1996. The agreements were signed after discussions held in Canada by a team led by G Karthikeyan. The LDF government which came to power in May, 1996 had decided to continue with the Memorandum of Understanding and consultancy agreement signed during the UDF government. It was in this context that the then chief minister E K Nayanar and electricity minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited Canada and held detailed discussions.

It is surprising that the CBI, which alleges Pinarayi Vijayan with criminal conspiracy, does not find fault with G Karthikeyan who had signed the first and second stage agreements. Pinarayi Vijayan and the LDF government did not take any new decision except bringing certain amendments in the existing contract which made it more favourable to the state.

There have been complaints that the central government has been misusing CBI as an instrument to foist false cases against political opponents and to exonerate political friends from criminal liabilities. Currently, there is a glaring example of how the ruling Congress party uses CBI investigations. The CBI had petitioned the Supreme Court earlier that its report on investigating Mulayam Singh Yadav and family members in a disproportionate assets case be submitted to the court. That was when the Samajwadi Party was opposed to the Congress. Subsequently, after the Samajwadi Party supported the UPA government, the CBI did a volte face and went to the Supreme Court asking to withdraw its petition and asking the court to allow it to submit its report to the government. The court is still hearing the fresh petition. Even the counsel for the CBI has been changed after the first hearing when the court made some pointed queries.

The present case is another instance of misuse of the CBI to foist false cases against political opponents. The use of CBI by the ruling party, as its instrument for political purposes, should be a matter for serious public concern. The CPI(M) will expose the Congress game behind this move. The people of Kerala will see through this blatant political manoeuvre.