THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whose office is already in the eye of a storm over the Sprinklr row, has found himself in a quandary after the CMO and IT secretary M Sivasankar, who is also Pinarayi’s secretary, came under scanner in connection with smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels. Around 30kg of gold was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on Sunday from a diplomatic consignment that arrived reportedly from the UAE.
While the Opposition UDF demanded a CBI probe into the incident, BJP state president K Surendran squarely blamed the CMO for it. However, Pinarayi rejected the allegations saying there were deliberate attempts to drag him and his office into everything. Attacking the government, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CM could not run away from his responsibility. “In addition to the IT secretary, another CMO official is involved in the incident,” alleged Chennithala. He also demanded a clarification about Sivasankar’s involvement in the case.
Pointing out the bureaucrat’s role in the Sprinklr deal, BevQ app and e-mobility scheme, Chennithala demanded his removal from the CMO. “The CMO has become the source of corrupt practices. The CM cannot run away from his responsibility, after his office tried to help the culprit go into hiding. How did Swapna get a job with the IT department when she was facing a Crime Branch probe? The Intelligence department had also furnished an unfavourable report against her appointment. It is being said Swapna has links with PricewaterhouseCoopers, as it was the latter that helped her get the job with the department,” alleged Chennithala.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said the CMO had become a safe haven for smugglers and the mafia. “The links between Swapna and the CMO point to this. Caught red handed, the government is now trying to escape by terminating her service. CPM leaders have been maintaining contacts with gold smugglers. Faiz, who was caught in a gold smuggling case earlier, had close links with CPM,” he alleged.
He alleged attempts were being made to save Pinarayi and top government officials. UDF convener Benny Behanan, Mahila Congress state president Lathika Subhash and the Youth Congress have also sought a CBI probe into the case.
CMO behind Swapna Suresh, says Surendran
Kozhikode: BJP state president K Surendran on Monday alleged that the chief minister’s office (CMO) is behind Swapna Suresh. “When the smugglers were taken into custody, the first call was from the CMO. Swapna is the manager of the CMO’s IT and Infrastructure wing. She has close contact with the CM’s principal IT secretary M Sivasankar. The issue has larger ramifications as it affects national security. The CM should give an explanation immediately,” Surendran told reportes. He said Swapna was quizzed by Crime Branch officials twice in the case of drafting a fake document against an Air India official. “She was ousted from the UAE consulate. Yet, she managed to get a job with the CMO. Though the Special Branch wing had warned the CM about her credentials, he ignored it,” he said.