Opposition slams Kerala government over vigilance probes

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 28 (IANS) The opposition Congress on Friday slammed Kerala’s LDF government over the ongoing vigilance probes against top bureaucrats, saying that governance in the state has come to a standstill.

Amid rising disquiet over vigilance probes against Additional Chief Secretary and Finance Secretary K.M. Abraham and Additional Chief Secretary and Labour Secretary Tom Jose, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said in the state assembly: “The end result is governance in the state has come to a standstill and people’s issues are not being tackled.

“What we are seeing today is two police officials holding the rank of director general of police are unhappy. Then we see Vigilance chief Jacob Thomas filing a petition that his phone and emails is being snooped into.”

Addressing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, he said: “The Finance Secretary K.M. Abraham has written to you (Vijayan) that he is being targeted, and it was shocking to see the way the Vigilance conducted a raid in his home yesterday.”

Chennithala pointed out that never before has the state seen squabbling between top bureaucrats and police officials like now.

In his reply, Vijayan admitted that there was some issue in the way the Vigilance did its job at Abraham’s house, for which an explanation has been sought.

“At the moment, I am unable to go into details on that, but the overall picture now is that there are strong forces that are determined to see the back of Thomas,” said Vijayan.

Vijayan also pointed out that Thomas is a capable official to head the Vigilance.

“The state government has no doubt about his competence,” added Vijayan.

Ever since Vijayan was sworn in on May 25 and Thomas appointed as head of Vigilance the same day, uneasy calm appears to prevail, especially among top opposition leaders who were cabinet ministers in the Oommen Chandy government, and now top bureaucrats have also started to feel the heat.

If on Thursday, Abraham came under the Vigilance scanner, on Friday morning the residence of top bureaucrat Tom Jose was raided by the vigilance.

Sleuths arrived at the residence of Jose at Kochi and in the state capital and later at his office in the state secretariat.

Reacting to the turn of events, Jose told the media that all the details of his properties had been filed.

“This is nothing but done with an intention to tarnish my image and is being done with vengeance,” said Jose.

Relations between the top officials started to worsen ever since Thomas was shocked when a finance inspection wing report under Abraham in March this year indicted Thomas of procedural lapses. The report, which found its way into the hands of the media last week, says his acts caused a loss to the exchequer when he was the Ports Director during the regime of Oommen Chandy.

Incidentally, Jose is president of the IAS Officers Association. On Thursday, the top IAS officials expressed their strong displeasure to Chief Secretary S.M. Vijayanand at the manner in which Thomas is “going about things”.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reminded the house that while they are not against tackling corruption, “the way things are being done” does not augur well.

“None should forget that Abraham as SEBI director was instrumental in recovering Rs 24,000 crore from a company. The vigilance reached his home when no men were present and there were no women in the vigilance team,” said Chandy.

Abraham who is known to be an upright officer and a stickler for rules was largely instrumental in Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy going behind bars, while he worked with SEBI.