THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has given the nod to the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau to probe a complaint of corruption against Muslim League leader and Azhikode MLA K M Shaji, whose recent remarks on the alleged misuse of the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund had drawn a strong reaction from CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
The nod was given to the anti-graft agency to probe the complaint filed by Kannur Block Panchayat president K Padmanabhan in 2017.
The complainant had alleged that Shaji had received a kickback of Rs 25 lakh from the management of a school in Azhikode in return for sanctioning higher secondary courses to the school during 2013-14.
The complaint also alleged that the management had approached the local Muslim League leaders seeking permission to start higher secondary courses and promised them Rs 25 lakh in return for constructing a party building. However, the MLA dissuaded them from doing so and instead took the money as kickback after the school was granted permission to start the courses.
Though the complaint was registered four years back, the nod for the probe comes at a time when the opposition has locked horns with the government over various issues, including the use of CM's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) and transferring of data of COVID-19 patients to US-based firm Sprinkler.
Reacting to the news, Shaji said the allegation against him was baseless. He said the CM was behind the new development because he had criticised the government.
"The CM might be harbouring vengeance against me because his image has been marred. What is the difference between the Pinarayi government that is going after political opponents and the Modi government?" Shaji asked before adding that the case will be legally fought.
The Muslim League, meanwhile, has thrown its weight behind Shaji. IUML state secretary KPA Majeed said the government was exacting vengeance on Shaji for criticising the government's handling of CMDRF. "We will address the matter legally as well as politically," he said.