Solar Stroke Sends Cong Scampering for Full Copy of Probe Report

The Congress high command on Thursday directed its party workers in Kerala not to make any public utterances on the solar scam, a day after the Pinarayi Vijayan government made a decision to initiate a criminal and vigilance probe against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others in the Rs 7 million case.

On 26 September this year, the commission submitted a four-volume report, running into 1,073 pages, and its findings were disclosed in a press meet by Kerala chief minister Vijayan on Wednesday.

However, Congress', Ramesh Chennithala, leader of the Opposition and the number two in the party, told reporters that the timing of the chief minister's press meet makes it clear that his intentions are politically motivated.

In an even more damaging move, the commission opined that suitable proceedings may be launched against Chandy after his name was found in the list of VIPs produced by prime scam-accused Saritha Nair and who had demanded sexual favours.

The case broke out in June 2013 during Chandy's rule (2011-16) after reports surfaced that three staffers in the Chief Minister's Office had contacts with a couple who cheated many investors of money after promising to supply solar panels to them. All of them will be slapped with charges of rape, sexual assault and outraging modesty of women and investigated, apart from probe on bribe charges, Vijayan said. People close to Chandy told Mint, on conditions of anonymity, that the party is also looking at legal options to get hold of the full report and avert arrests if any.

Solar Scam second accused Saritha S Nair had known former chief minister Oommen Chandy very long before, says evidence. The development also comes at a time when the Congress has been considerably weakened in Kerala with the exit of allies and internal bickering. "We will fight the solar commission report legally and the UDF is united in this".

Some Congress state ministers, MPS and MLAs were named by Saritha in the letter written by her when she was behind bars in connection with the solar scam case.

Interestingly, the name of Mani's son Jose K Mani, MP from Kottayam, is among those mentioned in the list of her "tormentors" produced by Saritha Nair. He was referring to the bypoll ongoing in Vengara assembly constituency on Wednesday.

Given this, it was natural for an assortment of UDF functionaries to come to the aid of the Congress party and voice their protest against the ruling CPI (M), which they said was 'busy pushing a certain agenda'. In it former Electricity Minister Aryadan Muhammed is heard saying that Saritha was introduced to him by Chandy.

It is likely that a criminal case would be filed against former Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan as he is believed to have been an accomplice, and had allegedly tried to sabotage the probe by influencing the investigating officers.

Vanessa Coleman