Setback to UDF govt as Court orders FIR against CM, Minister

Setback to UDF govt as Court orders FIR against CM, Minister

In a major embarrassment to Congress-led UDF government in Kerala, a Vigilance court today ordered registration of an FIR against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Power Minister Arayadan Mohammed in the solar scam even as the CPI-M led LDF demanded their immediate resignation.

Putting up a brave face, Chandy denied the charges levelled against him and said "he cannot be removed from the post by raising false allegations and disgracing him."

The chief minister asserted that he would resign and withdraw from public life if the allegations were proved right, hours after Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance), Thrissur, directed the vigilance to register an FIR against Chandy and Arayadan in the case.

Rattling the government, prime accused, Saritha S Nair had yesterday targeted Chandy and Arayadan while deposing before the Justice Sivarajan Commission in Kochi, probing the case, and had alleged that she had paid bribes to the tune of Rs 1.90 crore to a close aide of the Chief Minister and Rs 40 lakh to the power minister. The two ministers have denied the allegations.

The court passed the order on a private complaint by one P D Joseph, seeking a vigilance probe on the claims by Saritha that she had paid bribes for getting favourable decisions to 'Team Solar Company.'

Reacting to the court direction, CPI(M) veteran and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said Chandy had no moral right to continue in power on technical grounds.

He also warned that the LDF would launch a massive agitation against the government if Chandy clings to power. The situation Chandy now faces was similar to that faced by former Finance Minister K M Mani and Excise Minister K Babu, who have resigned in the bar bribery case, he said.

CPI-M state secretary Kodieryi Balakrishnan said Chandy was a person who claimed to be upholding political morality. "If that is true, Chandy should quit," he told reporters here. Arayadan should also resign, he added.

Babu had resigned hours after vigilance had filed an FIR against him in the bar bribery case on January 23, while Mani was forced to quit after the High Court made some stinging observations.

Meanwhile, CPI-M and Yuva Morcha activists staged protests in differents of the state demanding resignation of the Chief Minister. A march to the state secretariat here by CPI-M workers turned violent leading to police lathi-charge and bursting of tear gas shells.

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