Amidst reports that the State Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) is considering a probe against Industries Minister EP Jayarajan in connection with allegations of nepotism in appointments in public sector units (PSUs) in Kerala, veteran CPM leader VS Achuthanandan has demanded punishment for the guilty.   


In a brief response to the media on Sunday morning, Achuthanandan, who is also the Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission, said that the controversy ditched the image of the Left government. He also put the government led by his party in a tight spot in the nepotism row by demanding that the guilty should be punished in an exemplary manner. "I hope the government would seriously investigate the issue and take exemplary action against the guilty," he said. 


Achuthanandan has virtually given a boost to the Opposition's demand for removal of EP Jayarajan from Pinarayi Vijayan Ministry by demanding 'exemplary punishment.' The former Chief Minister's   comment has come at a time when the CPM leadership is trying to douse the controversy by cancelling the appointments of the kith and kin of ministers and party leaders in the major posts of PSUs and state-run corporations. 


Last week, the Industries Department had revoked the order appointing Sudheer Nambiar, son of CPM's Lok Sabha member Sreemathi and relative of Jayarajan, as the MD of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises. But the controversy failed to die down as more such postings came to light and with the Chief Minister Vijayan trying to distance himself from them. There were reports that Vijayan pulled up Jayarajan for making unnecessary controversies. The CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had also promised that the party would review the appointments. 


Taking the cue from Achuthanandan, Congress state chief VM Sudheeran has sought immediate removal of Jayarajan from the ministry. "This is not an internal matter of the CPM. Let the investigation take its due course. But Jayarajan should be removed as the first step," Sudheeran said on Sunday morning. He also stated that appointments to the top posts in corporations and PSUs would not have been possible without the nod from the Chief Minister.