THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The LDF Government will have to do a tightrope walk if it attempts to defend the quizzing of the Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the gold smuggling case. In the wake of Jaleel’s interrogation, both Opposition UDF and the BJP trained guns on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for shielding the minister. While Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala urged Jaleel to quit if he has an iota of morality left in him, BJP state chief K Surendran asked the chief minister to oust Jaleel.
The BJP has announced state-wide agitations from Friday night onwards, demanding the minister’s resignation. Mullappally Ramchandran, KPCC chief, targeted Pinarayi Vijayan, terming him the big fish responsible for all such murky allegations. The CPM leadership, however, maintained that there’s no need for the minister to step down. Chennithala pointed out that it is the first time in the history of the state that a minister is being interrogated by a Central agency.
“He appeared for questioning in a more or less secretive manner. The chief minister has been protecting him for long. For how long can he shield him?” he said. Mullappally Ramachandran too was scathing on the chief minister for shielding the minister. “The chief minister is the epicentre of all such corruption and allegations that keep cropping up. His principal secretary was first questioned. Later, the son of his party’s state secretary was interrogated. Jaleel is only a small fish. The chief minister is the big fish,” he said, adding, the CM should seek Jaleel’s resignation.
Meanwhile, the BJP got into agitation mode, demanding that Jaleel should step down without delay. Surendran pointed out that there is a strong suspicions that under the cover of distributing the Quran, gold was smuggled. “The investigation agencies have got information that Jaleel has links with the accused in the gold smuggling case. The chief minister does not want to oust him from his Cabinet probably because Jaleel has links with many others in the government?” he said.
The Left was confident that it was able to handle the Sivasankar episode and Bineesh Kodiyeri saga to some extent. But with the new development, the Left has clearly found itself in murkier waters. That the minister went for interrogation in a clandestine manner and that he kept on denying the same, will make it all the more difficult for the LDF leadership to explain it all away. The political ripples created by the Jaleel episode are sure to have its impact in the coming days.