Kerala CM declines to toe party line in Lavlin case

Kerala CM  declines to toe party line in Lavlin case

At logger heads with Vijayan for long, Achuthanandan's stand amounted to virtual rejection of the campaign by his party and cabinet colleagues that the Governor had acted under political pressure by rejecting the state cabinet's recommendation against prosecuting Vijayan.

Refusing to term Gavai's action as "serious breach of Constitutional norms" as maintained by his party and some of his ministerial colleagues, the 86-year old Marxist veteran said he was not "surprised" by the Governor's decision as there had been similar precedents in the country.

"I don't consider this as a great surprise. There have been precedents of governors having taken decisions like this using their discretionary powers after studying the matters under their consideration," he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting where Gavai's letter to CBI was formally placed.

Achuthanandan said the cabinet did not discuss the letter and he had asked his ministerial colleagues to study it.

The comments by Achuthanandan come two days the governor's nod to prosecute Vijayan regarding award of contracts to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of hydro power projects in 1998. Vijayan, the Power Minister then, is being sought to be arraigned by the CBI as the ninth accused.

"There have also been references made by the Supreme Court in similar situations," Achuthanandan said to a specific query if he thought the Governor had violated Constitutional norms as alleged by his party leaders in the state.

He said the copy of the Governor's communication was placed before the cabinet and it would be discussed in the next meeting, allowing time for his colleagues to study it.

Asked about the statements of his cabinet colleagues criticising the Governor, he said "I have not seen them".

Achuthanandan found instant support from Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Oomen Chandy, who said the Chief Minister's position was correct and those who found fault with the Governor had been proved wrong.

The position taken by Achuthanandan is likely to further escalate the intra-party squabblings in the CPI-M, whose LDF suffered reverses in the recent Lok Sabha elections in the state.

While the position of the party politburo had been that the case was politically motivated, Achuthanandan had never come in defence of his beleaguered colleague.

Even when the state cabinet considered the Advocate General's opinion that there was no ground to prosecute Vijayan in the case, Achuthanandan had reportedly struck a dissenting voice.

On this count, Achuthananandan had to face attack in the party state secretariat meet in which some members went to the extent of demanding his resignation.

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