Solar scam: LDF government orders probe against ex-CM Oommen Chandy
Based on the recommendations of Justice (retd.) Sivarajan-headed judicial commission, the CPM-led LDF government in Kerala has ordered a vigilance probe against former CM and Congress leader Oommen Chandy in the solar scam case. Chandy and his staff members allegedly helped the accused Saritha S Nair of Team Solar company to cheat clients and in turn took bribes from them. Know more!
In the beginning, it was a simple case of duping
In June'13, Kerala police arrested Nair and her live-in partner Radhkrishnan after businessman Sajad claimed the couple had taken Rs. 40L for a windmill project, but the project didn't take off. The couple owned the Kochi-based firm providing solar energy solutions. They collected money from businessmen promising them partnership in windmill projects and solar fields by naming then-CM Chandy and his associates.
Following the arrest, political leaders' names came tumbling out
After Nair's arrest, 33 cheating complaints came in and cases were registered. Subsequently, her phone was checked. Her phone records showed that she was in touch with Chandy's personal assistant Tenni Joppen, additional personal assistant Jikkumon Jacob and security guard Salim Raj. Most calls were traced to Chandy's landline and PA Joppen's cellphone suggesting that Nair may have been in direct contact with Chandy.
What are the allegations against Chandy?
Radhakrishnan, who was earlier accused of killing his wife Reshmi in 2006, in December 2015 told the commission that he had allegedly paid Chandy a Rs. 5.5cr bribe and claimed that he had visual of Chandy and his associates having "physical relations" with Nair. Nair alleged that she paid a bribe of Rs, 1.90cr to Chandy for setting up power projects in the state.
What happened to Saritha Nair?
While Nair was in jail, she wrote a letter naming the VIPs who had established sexual relations with her in return for solar business contracts. In 2014, Nair was released on bail. She continued naming politicians, mostly Congress leaders, involved with her. Further, the jail's DGP Jacob revealed that the jail received about 150 applications to see Nair in jail, some from senior politicians.
What has the judicial commission recommended?
The Justice G Sivarajan commission, appointed by Chandy's government in 2013, had held 353 sittings, including examinations of Chandy and Nair. In September'17, the report was handed over to CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Apart from suggesting Chandy's involvement in the scam, it accuses Chandy and other Congress leaders of sexually assaulting Nair and booking them for rape and outraging woman's modesty.
How did the Congress react?
Chandy has consistently dismissed all allegations against him. He said that he won't be weakened and that the report be released to the public. Ramesh Chennithala, the state leader of opposition, said that the decision of a probe on a day when there are by-elections in Vengara is "politically motivated." Senior Congress leader AK Antony also accused CP(M) government of "low-level politics."
What does this mean for the state's politics?
This information has been released on the day the Vengara constituency in the Muslim-majority Mallapuram region goes for by-elections. This is mainly considered a Congress-led United Democratic Fund versus Left Democratic Front contest and thus, the solar scam revelations have been made at a strategic time. The solar scam with shades of corruption, sex, sleaze and duping might continue to haunt Congress.