THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The multi-crore SNC Lavalin corruption case was fiercely debated in the Assembly on Monday during discussion on the notice for adjournment motion by the Opposition, demanding a CBI inquiry into corruption in the police department.
Giving notice for the motion, P T Thomas (Congress) raised the Opposition’s oft-repeated charge that Lavalin case is the reason why Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has been ‘shielding’ state police chief Loknath Behera.
Thomas alleged that Behera is the ‘bridge’ connecting the chief minister with the Centre. “If that bridge collapses, the chief minister will fall into an abyss,” Thomas said.
Replying to the notice for the motion, Pinarayi hit out against the Opposition and said such allegations point to the ‘upbringing’ of the MLAs who levelled them. “Which Lavalin are you talking about? At present, there is no case against me,” he said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala soon joined issue and said the Lavalin case still exists. “Unless the judicial process is exhausted, nobody can be exonerated. The CBI’s appeal is pending before the Supreme Court and the chief minister will have to face the legal battle,” he said.
The corruption case relates to the loss of Rs 86.25 crore suffered by the exchequer after Kerala State Electricity Board, during Pinarayi’s tenure as then Electricity Minister, signed a contract with Candian firm SNC Lavalin for renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectric projects. The High Court had discharged Pinarayi of the charges in 2018.