THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition is elated after it has become certain that M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the CM, will be questioned by the NIA in the gold smuggling case. Since the Sprinklr deal had snowballed into a major controversy, the Opposition had been demanding his ouster from service. The CPI leadership had also demanded the same.
Now, more damaging allegations have been raised against Sivasankar that he was instrumental in reinstating Dr Sriram Venkitaraman, who was suspended from service following the death of journalist K M Basheer in a drink driving accident on August 3, 2019, as the joint secretary in the health and social justice department. The CPM has been left in a quandary after a writeup in the CPI mouthpiece Janayugam on Sunday lashed out at Sivasankar’s role in the Chief Minister’s Office earlier. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had not taken the allegations on Sprinklr data deal raised by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala seriously. Instead, he rallied behind Sivasankar which gave the bureaucrat the confidence that he had the protection from none other than the chief minister himself.
It should be recalled how the DYFI had always created an uproar whenever the previous UDF government had tried to raise the retirement age of state government employees to 56 years. But when Sivasankar allegedly gave the nod to hire scores of persons in the IT department through various consultancy agencies including PricewaterhouseCoopers, the DYFI leadership could do nothing as several youths managed to get back-door appointments through C-DIT, bypassing PSC.
N K Premachandran, MP and RSP leader, told TNIE that Sivasankar had ruled the roost at the CMO. “Sivasankar had a specific role in the CMO including handling all files. The chief minister saw the file only after Sivasankar had gone through it. Obviously, the tainted bureaucrat is solely responsible for all back-door appointments in the IT department,” said Premachandran.
On Monday, the UDF’s liaison committee is scheduled to take stock of the situation after the NIA Court remanded Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, suspects in the gold smuggling case. Joseph Vazhakkan, KPCC vice-president, told TNIE that everything that had happened in the IT department and CMO was linked to Sivasankar.
“The Congress has been alleging that PwC was hired for all postings in IT department and for conducting the feasibility study of the e-mobility project. How did Exalogic Solutions Pvt Ltd of Pinarayi’s daughter rose to prominence over the last few years? It is not surprising that Sivasankar had played a crucial role in bringing back Sriram Venkitaraman in service,” said Vazhakkan.