With Assembly elections round the corner a con woman has dropped a bomb powerful enough to shatter the prospects of the Oommen Chandy government in Kerala.The deposition by the con woman, Saritha S Nair before the Solar judicial commission that she had paid Rs 1.9 crore as bribe to the chief minister has already generated much heat in Kerala politics with the Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party demanding Chany's resignation.
Things have been getting worse for Chandy and his friends ever since the solar scam scandal came to the fore in 2013 as the names of Chandy and some of his cabinet colleagues and two Congress MPs found place in the list people having links with the con woman and her Team Solar Energy Company. Though Chandy had been feigning innocence since the beginning the role of his office became clear at a later stage and two of his personnel staff and a body guard to be dismissed.
What is most shocking for Chandy and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala is that Saritha's deposition before the judicial commission about paying bribe has come when the government is struggling hard to fight the bar bribery case which has already forced two ministers to step down. This apart, the Opposition had named Chandy as the key player in the bar bribery case.
Saritha said she and her team were offered full support and cooperation by the chief minister himself. The woman even contradicted whatever Chandy had said deposed before Justice Sivarajan commission during his 14-hour long grilling on Monday. While Chandy refused to undergo lie detection test Saitha has offered to undergo the test to prove her claims true.
Though Chandy has denied the allegations pulling himself out of the quagmire into which he has fallen would not be an easy job at this point. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party has asked Chandy to step down as chief minister while Bharatiya Janata Party state president Kummanam Rajasekharan demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) into the solar scam scandal.
“ It is big lie.Nobody will believe her(Saritha),” was Chandy’s immediate reaction to Saritha’s latest allegations that has raised the mercury in the political barometer of Kerala. His close lieutenant and Kerala Cultural Minister KC Joseph also defended Chandy saying that the people of Kerala will not be carried away by the baseless allegations of a con woman. “ She is a fraudster and the liquor barons who have lost a lucrative business owing to the new liquor policy are behind her,” he said.
Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed, another Chandy confidant also faces bribe charges in the same case. Aryadan also denied the allegations saying that he never took money from Saritha and never did any favour to Team Solar.
Saritha’s revelations about the direct involvement of Chandy raises some doubts as it has come at a time when the elections are round the corner. It can also be presumed that Saritha is in for a big game and has closed all the doors on the Congress as the chances of it retaining power in Kerala is bleak.
The veracity of the Saritha’s claims are yet to be proved. Even her readiness to undergo a lie detection test to prove her claims true need not be taken for granted. But the recorded version of a conversation between her and Thampanoor Ravi, a Chandy confidant in which the latter is heard asking Sartitha not to contradict what Chandy had told the commission is kicking up enough dust.
Though the Congress high command has extended full support to Chandy, his fate hangs in balance. The going will be tough for Chandy as Opposition and the BJP are sure to mount pressure on him and his government to step down.