Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said the high court verdict exonerating him in the SNC-Lavalin graft case had clearly vindicated the ruling CPM's stand that it was a "politically motivated" case to tarnish the party's image at the national level.
"The truth has won...," a jubilant Vijayan said, adding he always believed in the judiciary.
"I believed that judiciary will come out with the truth and that belief has become stronger now after this verdict," he told reporters soon after the verdict.
The order had come as a great relief to the CPM-led LDF state government which rode to power in May last year. The case had been haunting Vijayan, a politburo member, for nearly two decades.
The Kerala High Court had upheld the verdict of the CBI Court, Thiruvananthapuram, discharging the Left leader from the case, observing that "CBI had wrongly picked and chosen Pinarayi Vijayan without any material in the case".
Political observers also feel that the verdict has come in handy for Vijayan, a former CPM state secretary, which would strengthen his position in the party.
Hitting out at the then UDF government headed by Oommen Chandy and the UPA government at the Centre in 2005, the Kerala chief minister said there had been a political conspiracy and pressure on the CBI to "frame" him in the case.
Vijayan said the verdict had clearly mentioned that the CBI had adopted a "pick and choose" formula to frame him. This was due to political pressure on the central agency, which everyone knows, he said.
Vijayan with relief writ large on his face said the verdict has given him more courage and energy to take up various development works for the state.
However, without taking any names, he said there were some "ulterior forces" who were "disappointed" with the verdict.
Former chief minister VS Achuthanandan, once Vijayan's 'bete noire' in the party, had also used the case to target him.
Justifying his position, Vijayan said people of the state had realised the truth which was why the CPM-led LDF had been voted to power with a thumping majority.
Thanking the party and cadres for reposing faith in him, the CPM leader said the party had maintained that the case was "politically motivated" which had now been vindicated by the high court verdict.
Referring to the judge's remark that he had received some anonymous letters when the case had been reserved for judgment, Vijayan said the court itself had pointed out that some people had a political interest in this case.
Vijayan said the apex court had earlier said that CBI was a "caged parrot". Now with the verdict, it has become very clear that the agency had been used as a political tool to target me, he said.
Welcoming the verdict, the state unit of CPM said the "clean chit" to Vijayan was a vindication of the party stand that CBI had been misused.
At least now, the Centre should abandon using CBI against political rivals, state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters.
In 2005, the then Congress led UDF government in the state had handed over the case to CBI.
After the CPM withdrew support to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, Vijayan was made an accused in the case, Balakrishnan alleged.
As a minister, Vijayan had not done anything wrong and the high court has given him a 'clean chit', he said.
Reacting to the verdict, BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the CBI should file an appeal in the case.
The exoneration of Vijayan was only technical, he said, adding the court had found that corruption was involved.
The case relates to awarding of the contract to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for the renovation of three hydel projects, Sengulam, Pallivasal and Panniyar in 1995 when Vijayan was power minister in the then EK Nayanar cabinet.
Updated Date: Aug 23, 2017 20:04 PM