Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, June 7 (IANS): In a major embarrassment to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has got the go-ahead to prosecute the party's politburo member and senior Kerala leader Pinarayi Vijayan in the Rs.300 crore SNC Lavalin scam. The Marxist party said Sunday it will fight the case "politically and legally".
A CBI source told IANS that Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai has given the sanction to prosecute Vijayan.
Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was the state power minister in 1997.
It is the first time in the party's history that one of its politburo members has been accused in a multicrore scam and will face prosecution.
Opposition leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala welcomed the move. "Justice has been done," said Chandy, a former chief minister.
M.K. Pandhe, CPI-M politburo member, told IANS in New Delhi: "Our party has taken a decision that it will fight the case politically and legally as we believe that it is a politically motivated case.
"Our politburo is meeting June 18 and we will have a thorough discussion on the matter," he said.
The CPI-M Kerala unit, which is controlled by Vijayan, had applied pressure on the Left-ruled state government not to give sanction for the prosecution. However, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, a politburo member who has been at loggerheads with Vijayan, had taken a position that the party secretary should face legal prosecution.
A majority of Achuthanandan's ministerial colleagues, however, took a stand in favour of Vijayan and referred the matter to Advocate General Sudhakar Prasad, who also was in favour of Vijayan