Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday announced a vigilance probe into a land deal involving the CPI's Wayanad district unit after Asianet News sting purportedly showed the CPI hand in glove with the land mafia.
The CPM and the CPI are premier allies in the ruling Left government. LDF's Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan is a CPI leader.
"This government will in no way tolerate corruption. In this particular case, the government has done no wrong. The visuals aired show a government official playing truant and the Revenue Minister has already announced the steps taken. We now announce a vigilance probe into it," Pinarayi told the state Assembly.
The expose shows an Asianet News team posing as a group of businessmen looking for a particular piece of land in the district to build a resort. They first approach Kunju Mohammed, a real estate broker, who takes them to Wayanad Deputy Collector T Somnathan and some CPI district leaders, including its Wayanad unit secretary Vijayan Cherukara.
Mohammed connects them with Somnathan and Cherukara, and the latter using his influence gets access to the state secretariat. The visuals - besides the audio of the conversation between Mohammed, Somnathan and Cherukara - try to establish that there is an unholy alliance between them to allegedly usurp the government land.
Senior Congress legislator VD Sateeshan said the sting shows what "we see in films - how officials manipulate land records to favour people who are willing to bribe them. This is the latest example of how attempts to usurp government land is being carried out by the mafia, which operates not just in Wayanad but across the state."
Chandrasekheran, however, denied all charges and said since he took over as Minister, the government has registered 602 cases against various people who tried to usurp government land.
"Is it not common practice for people to come to party offices to get justice. I did receive an application from six people in this case and as is the norm, I asked the Wayanad District Collector to look into the matter. What you all should see is no favours were given and in fact we have already suspended the Deputy Collector and all the files regarding this have been confiscated and the probe has begun," Chandrasekheran stressed.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the revenue minister was trying to trivialise the issue.
"Please do not forget that the four CPI ministers in the cabinet even went to the extent of boycotting the weekly cabinet meeting last year when the Chief Minister was trying to shield a minister (Thomas Chandy) in an alleged land usurpment. The CPM appears to be the happiest after this case surfaced," Chennithala said.
(With agency inputs)