Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) stating that enforcement directorate (ED) is violating the model code of conduct in the State just before the Assembly elections due on April 6. The move is after the ED filed a case against Kerala government’s Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) for alleged FEMA violation.
The Left Front is taking up this issue politically as many of their flagship programmes, including several infrastructure developments, were done through KIIFB funds.
The Chief Minister wrote, “The Enforcement Directorate has recently been repeatedly calling officials of KIIFB, a body corporate fully owned by the Government of Kerala. Some of the officials who have been called, including ladies, have been subjected to intemperate behaviour by the officials of the Enforcement Directorate, Kochi unit. The stated subject matter under investigation is the issue of rupee designated masala bonds by KIIFB in May 2019. The issue is neither one of recent occurrence nor one of urgent nature.”
The CM added that this has come close on heels of the speech made by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Tripunithura, Kochi on February 28, attacking the functioning of KIIFB and budget of the State Government.
The letter read: “The prudent conclusion that can be drawn is that the undue hurry, haste and leakage of information to the media by the officials of the Enforcement Directorate are motivated by partisan political reasons. The speech of the Union Finance Minister was delivered in a public meeting connected with the yatra being conducted by the Kerala State President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.”
Pinarayi Vijayan added that the “Officials are being summoned and misused for media propaganda during the time of election campaign. News is being leaked deliberately to the media so that the atmosphere is vitiated. The aim is to create a smear campaign against officials and the State government. The very purpose of public trust deposed on officials is being betrayed due to the action of the Union Finance Minister.”
The letter calls for the intervention of the election commission.
Meanwhile, Kerala Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Issac had said there is no FEMA violation. “There is no FEMA violation, if there is it’s the RBI which should first say that,” he said.
Dr Issac added that definitely this will be an election issue for the people of Kerala. “The question that we will ask is whether the good work initiated by KIIFB should continue.”
He added that the State will also seek legal remedies.
KIIFB is a government-owned financial institution in Kerala to mobilise funds for infrastructure development from outside the State revenue. KIIFB is a statutory body constituted by the ‘Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Act, 1999’ (Act 4 of 2000).