The ruling CPM in Kerala that has so far suspected the central investigation agencies is now mistrusting even the state's own investigation agency, with a section of senior leaders flaying the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) at a state-owned financial institution.
Triggering a political row, Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac termed the VACB's action as a mad one. This has caused much embarrassment to the government, especially since the VACB is under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Kerala State Financial Enterprises, where the raids were carried out by VACB, is under the finance minister.
Adding further to the row, another CPM senior leader Anathalavattom Anandan raised suspicions of a conspiracy involving private-sector financial institutions to tarnish the credibility of KSFE by initiating the raids.
Many CPM leaders are quite upset since the raids took place at a time when the local body election campaigns are at its peak. The opposition parties have already launched an attack against the government over the issue, citing Isaac's comments about VACB.
The fresh development comes close on the heels of Kerala government alleging of a political ploy by Enforcement Directorate and Comptroller and Auditor General. While ED initiated a probe into some flagship projects of the Pinarayi Vijayan government in connection with a probe against gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh and M Sivasankar, CAG pointed out flaws in Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
The finance minister said on Sunday that the VACB did not follow the norms for conducting raids at KSFE and it would affect the firm's credibility. "Hence it was a mad act," he said.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that the finance minister should clarify who was acting madly. He also said that the finance minister was concerned whether the irregularities would be exposed. "The Vigilance investigation into the irregularities should continue," he said.
BJP state president K Surendran said that by flaying the Vigilance action as a mad one, the finance minister is targeting the Chief Minister itself and the state government has now lost faith in own investigation agencies. He also alleged of corruption in the much-hyped chitty scheme for NRIs initiated by KSFE.
KSFE, which is a non-banking finance institution, is mainly into monthly deposit schemes, popularly known as chitty. The raids on Saturday were learnt to be on the basis of complaints of irregularities in the conduct of the monthly deposit scheme. The Vigilance is learnt to have recovered evidence for manipulations in allotting funds on the monthly investment scheme, which is generally done through draw of lots or bidding.