Actresses and femme fatales in Kerala solar stew of scandal
Since last month, actresses have been tumbling out of the closets of the Solar Scam, which has muddled Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s Mr Clean image and has had his precarious government teetering on the edge. The first actress found to be involved in the scam was Shalu Menon, who has admitted to business links with the kingpins of the scam Saritha Nair and Biju Radhkarishnan. Now, cops have started probing the alleged links of Mollywood actress Uthara Unni to the scam-accused, after a Kochi-based travel agency filed a complaint. In the complaint, Saritha S Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan gave a bounced cheque of Rs 1.73 lakh after booking air tickets to Chennai and New Delhi. Uthara Unni was one of the passengers.
The SIT will interrogate Uthara Unni— the actress daughter of veteran actress Urmila Unni—to find out whether she had travelled with Biju and Saritha to Chennai, say police officials. Cops will also question her on her travel details to Dubai with Biju.
Urmila denied reports that Uthara was Team Solar’s brand ambassador but only had acted as a model for Team Solar’s advertisements. It was for modelling that she went to Chennai, where she’s studying, on the ticket taken by Team Solar.
It has been revealed that Shalu, a dancer-turned-television actress and the granddaughter of a famous dancer, was close to Biju. Police say she helped him to lure clients into coughing up crores of rupees, promising to get the necessary government permissions and help to set up solar power plants in the energy strapped state. Videos and photographs of the state’s VVIPs like Union minister Kodikkunnil Suresh and state Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan attending the house warming ceremony of Shalu’s palatial bungalow in Changanasserry and enjoying the tender coconuts she served them embarrassed the political class. Shalu has been under arrest since last weekend. She later admitted to the police that she had wanted to marry Biju, who had given her money to build her house and had presented her with gold and diamond ornaments.
Chandy, while clarifying why she was not taken in a police jeep from Changansserry to Thiruvananthapuram, said Shalu was taken into custody and not arrested. Her arrest was recorded as soon as she reached Thiruvananthapuram.
Uthara is part of Kerala royalty; her mother has acted in nearly 60 films. She posted on her Facebook page that she is “an actor, model and a media person! It’s part of my profession to participate in a lot of public events! I’m not responsible for the wrong doings of ppl to whom the brand belongs!! In her new post, she stated: “Media n social networks luv to defame ppl who r part of th lime light without even enquiring Wat th truth was!! Bt once they get to know the truth, they never bother to clarify th reality to public later on.” However, the police say that the actor’s Facebook page had a mention that she was the brand ambassador of Team Solar, Saritha’s and Biju’s company.
The Solar Scam is going to go down in Chandy’s resume as the most painful part of his political career. After Biju told the media that he had met Chandy personally for an hour at Kochi last year to complain about the illicit relationship between Saritha and former UDF minister KB Ganesh Kumar, the chief minister admitted that he had indeed met him. “I can’t and won’t reveal the content of our conversation because it concerned family matters,” was Chandy’s response. The heat went up considerably after another industrialist gave a statement to the police that he along with Saritha had met Chandy in his office. The CM offered to resign, but was dissuaded. Meanwhile efforts are on to retrieve the CCTV footage, which Chandy denies would not be possible since the servers have no recording capability, contrary to statements he has made earlier.
As the investigation proceeds, the names of more UDF ministers, Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, Tourism Minister Anil Kumar, Aryadan Mohammed, KC Joseph, Shibhu Baby John and Union minister of state KC Venugopal have surfaced in Saritha’s call records. Some of the ministers admitted to have been in touch with her.
- The Sunday Standard