Suspected moves of the UDF government to withdraw from attempts to ensure a CBI probe into the Data Centre case invited sharp criticism at a meeting of leaders held at the Cliff House on Monday afternoon, forcing Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to announce that a different course of action will not be pursued.
Kerala Congress leader R Balakrishna Pillai raised the issue in the meet, agitatedly asking whether the government is trying to save Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan and his son V A Arun Kumar, who, according to him, were clearly involved in the Data Centre case.
Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty was also for going ahead with the CBI probe.
Chandy tried to explain that attempts whatsoever noticed in the Data Centre case was to avoid a possible admonishment against the Advocate-General and the State Government by the Supreme Court.
He also said that the legal opinion is to withdraw the case pending in the Supreme Court and order a Vigilance inquiry afresh, and later hand over the case to the CBI.
But all attempts Chandy didn’t cut ice with those present.
A furious Ramesh Chennithala, KPCC president, curtly told the Chief Minister that if the stand of the government is changed from the one adopted by the cabinet itself, he will be forced to take a public stand opposing it.
Kerala Congress (Jacob) chairman Johny Nelloor told the meet that for a person like V S Achuthanandan, there is no need for a compromise.
CMP secretary K R Aravindakshan said that any attempt to exonerate Achuthanadan would prove disastrous for the UDF, as he will be the main campaigner for the LDF in the Lok Sabha elections and the people would suspect a deal with him.
Incidentally, Law Minister K M Mani kept a benign silence amid raising tempers at the meet.
JSS leader K K Shaju also didn’t join issue. Representatives of SJD were not present.
Briefing mediapersons, UDF convenor P P Thankachan said that no circumstances have emerged to withdraw the cabinet decision to proceed with a CBI probe in the case.
In an apparent attempt to mellow the situation, Rural Development Minister K C Joseph also said that what Attorney-General Goolam E Vahanvati had stated in the Supreme Court was not the official stand of the government.
The Minister said that the government was only considering various aspects of the case from a legal perspective.