People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 21

May 23, 2010


KERALA

 

Fabrication in Lavlin Case Exposed

 

K K Ragesh

 

THE cock and bull story manufactured by anti-communist circles in regard to the SNC Lavlin case has now come to its inevitable end. The CBI, which had charged CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, has now filed an affidavit in the court, saying there is no evidence to prove that he had made any financial gains. The CBI affidavit, in response to a petition filed by notorious Crime magazine editor, clarifies that there was no evidence to prove any monetary transactions in the agreement between the SNC Lavlin company and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB).

 

MOTIVATED

HULLABALOO

One notes that the notorious magazine editor had, in his petition, sought a follow-up probe on certain evidences (!) about the deal. The court naturally asked the CBI whether any evidences were left out to prove a monetary gain. The CBI filed the affidavit in reply, affirming that there was no evidence to prove that Pinarayi Vijayan or any middlemen had made any monetary benefits. The CBI also maintained that it could not investigate cases on the basis of hearsay. The rightwing media that fraudulently fashioned numerous fairytales on Lavlin case, however, made deliberate attempts to hide the news of the CBI affidavit; some of them even tried to twist the truth saying that the affidavit only said the CBI could not find any evidence to prove a monetary gain. To them, it did not mean that the CPI(M) state secretary had made no financial gains.

 

Further, in its charge sheet itself, the CBI had not accused Vijayan of having made any personal pecuniary benefits. The CBI had focussed on the setting up of the Malabar Cancer Centre at Thalassery in Kannur district, which is Pinarayi Vijayanís home district. Even then, the vested interests, the UDF and reactionary media blatantly propagated that Vijayan had made a huge amount as kickback in the Rs 374.50 crore Lavlin deal. Despite the fact that the total worth of the Lavlin-KSEB contract was Rs 149 crore only, the vested interests did not hesitate to make this motivated hullabaloo. But the CBIís latest affidavit has destroyed the foundation of the case and exploded the malicious campaign unleashed against the CPI(M) and its state secretary.

 

The Congress party has, time and again, used the intelligence agencies for partisan political gains, and the CBI has been no exception to it. The partyís real face was once again exposed when the opposition parties moved their cut motion in parliament. The Congress did not hesitate to withdraw the corruption cases lodged by the CBI against the BSP leader Mayawati; the same agency was used to neutralise some leaders of other parties also. Even the Supreme Court once vehemently criticised the centre for misusing the investigating agency.

 

FACTS &

FICTION 

It was the Congress led UDF government that had decided to renew the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar power projects on the basis of a technical report. The Narasimha Rao government at the centre was then encouraging the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) route. The UDF government too chose the MoU route for an agreement and no global tender was issued for the work. Accordingly, the SNC Lavlin and the KSEB signed an MoU in August 1995; subsequently an implementation/consultancy agreement was signed in February 1996. All these developments occurred under the UDF government when Congress leader G Karthikeyan was the electricity minister. In spite of these glaring facts, the UDF and rightwing media deliberately accused Pinarayi Vijayan of not calling for a global tender. But how could Vijayan, who became the state electricity minister in May 1996, call for a global tender for a project on which there had already been an agreement with the SNC Lavlin? How could the LDF government cancel an agreement when clause 17 of the contract stipulated arbitration for any breach of contract, under the rules and procedures of International Chamber of Commerce in Paris? How could the LDF government opt for years of litigation in regard to three major power projects which account for 20 per cent of total electricity production in the state when the whole state was facing an acute power crisis?

 

Earlier the LDF government had already faced a piquant situation. It had terminated the previous UDF governmentís MoU with the ABB for renovation of the Neryamangalam hydel power station where no implementation/consultancy agreement was signed, as was later done in case of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar power stations. After five years of litigation, the court had ordered the government to cancel its decision and allot the renovation work to the ABB. The malicious campaigners were blind even to the significant policy change --- that the LDF government had put an end to the MoU route and issued global tenders for such contracts. The rightwing media and anti-CPI(M) circles conveniently hid all such glaring facts.

 

It is amply clear that Vijayan did not sign any basic agreement with the SNC Lavlin; rather he had signed only an addendum to the basic agreement which was signed by the UDF government. After several rounds of discussion, the SNC Lavlin had to make in the basic agreement certain significant changes which were vital for protecting the stateís interests, and an addendum had to be signed to effect such alterations. It was on the basis of this addendum that substantial reductions were made in the price of the equipments to be purchased from Canada and in the consultancy fees, bank interest and other charges. The media and the anti-CPI(M) camp deliberately projected the addendum as a basic agreement. 

         

IRREFUTABLE

POLITICAL PLOT

During the period of the Nayanar government, a section of the Congress leadership and their supportive media had come up with certain allegations on the SNC Lavlin agreement. But the subsequent UDF government, which came to power in 2001, did not order any enquiry during its first two years. After two years, it ordered a vigilance enquiry on March 6, 2003 when the whole state was reverberating with massive struggles and the opposition MLAs were to go on an indefinite hunger strike following the brutal oppression of the tribal peopleís struggle and the killing of an adivasi activist in police firing. The investigation was ordered to divert attention from the inhuman police repression and mounting resistance.

 

The vigilance department investigated the case for three years and submitted a report to the UDF government on March 10, 2006, just before the assembly election. But the government did not initiate any action on the report. Reactionary media propagated that Pinarayi Vijayan was going to be an accused in the case. The UDF governmentís design was to sit tight over the report and feed the media speculations in order to influence the election results in its favour. But the department filed an FIR in the vigilance court, categorically stating that Vijayan was not responsible for any lapses. It added that his Canada visit and further discussions had helped to protect the stateís interest. When the departmentís findings became public knowledge, a humiliated UDF government found that they did not suit its interest. So it immediately removed the vigilance director and referred the case to the CBI, a day before the assembly election was announced. It is to be noted that, only a week before the vigilance department submitted its report, the same government had filed an affidavit in the court, opposing a CBI investigation when a petition filed by the Crime editor sought to refer the Lavlin case to the CBI. Then the governmentís stand was that the vigilance probe covered all aspects and hence a CBI investigation was not required. What else is required to prove that the UDF had hatched a heinous plot with a political motive!

 

The CBI too was so Ďvigilantí that it chose to submit its report just before the parliament elections. The investigating agency depicted G Karthikeyan (former UDF minister) as the author of the conspiracy but conveniently dropped his name from its list of the accused. The CBI devised a surprising story that Vijayan was involved in the conspiracy after he became the electricity minister in May 1996, in order to set up a cancer centre at Thalassery. The CBIís argument also gave an impression that the cancer centre is a private institution and that Vijayan made personal gains from it. In fact, the Malabar Cancer Centre, set up later, is a government institution under the health ministry.

 

Lavlin case is thus a forged case built upon follies and fraudulences for narrow political gains. Even the governorís office was misused and constitutional norms were violated. No state government can grant sanction to prosecute a former minister when the advocate general, in his legal opinion, categorically states that Vijayan had only performed his duties as a minister. Was it such an extraordinary case for the governor to grant sanction for prosecution so arbitrarily, by rejecting the state governmentís recommendation? The governor, in his order, could not give any logical argument to reject the protection guaranteed by the law of the land to a public servant who was discharging his duties in good faith.

 

THE REAL

PERPETRATORS

In their eagerness to create controversies and insinuate the CPI(M) and its state secretary in Lavlin case, the plotters suitably shielded the real perpetrators. Rightwing media consciously skirted the question whether the UDF government had not indulged in a criminal conspiracy while signing the MoU with Lavlin without any global tender. Why did the UDF government later allowed the Lavlin to get the MoU for setting up the Malabar Cancer Centre lapsed by neither renewing the  MoU nor signing an agreement with SNC Lavalin despite its willingness to sign it? Why did the CBI left out the author of the conspiracy from the list of the accused? Even though the case was referred to the CBI in March 2006, the agency did not find any case against the CPI(M) state secretary till the Left withdrew its support to the UPA government on nuclear issue. The CBIís intention in making Vijayan an accused in the case was clear. Lavlin case is nothing but a sinister plot of the anti-Left forces with the help of an investigating agency and the bourgeois media.  

 

Reactionary media and the anti-Marxists have always attacked the CPI(M) by worst methods. And today they are using the Lavlin case to attack the CPI(M) and its leadership. But can they always keep the people in dark? Time will tell.