Thiruvananthapuram, May 7 (ANI): The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) called for a statewide shutdown in Kerala today to protest against the State Government's decision to deny the prosecution of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the multi-billion SNC Lavalin case.
The shutdown was called to oppose the state cabinet's decision on Wednesday of not prosecuting Vijayan.
The decision came following the recommendation of Advocate General of Kerala, C.P. Sudhakara Prasad, who advised the State Government not to permit the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute Vijayan.
Amidst all the political drama unfolding in Kerala, the common man has been the worst hit. The small traders are finding it difficult to earn their bread and butter.
"We are facing lot of problems on account of shutdown. There has been sharp fall in the sale of Mangoes. The entire process of getting our merchandise and selling has been upset due to this," said Navas, a mango seller.
The Congress-led UDF in Kerala wants Vijayan's arrest and accused the State Government of shielding him.
"The Congress and the UDF are forced to call a shutdown against the State Government because the State Government is trying to protect the culprits of this highest scam which happened in Kerala, " said Ramesh Chennithala, state president of Congress.
The Congress-led UDF has called for the immediate intervention of Kerala Governor RS Gavai to force his prosecution.
"The State Government and state cabinet is obstructing the legal proceedings, so we are requesting the Governor to take action on this issue. The Governor can act independently. This is a criminal conspiracy since corruption is involved," said Chennithala.
Vijayan, who had been under the scanner in the case, was State Electricity Minister when the SNC Lavalin scam broke out 12 years ago.
SNC Lavalin power scandal is one of the biggest financial scams to rock Kerala.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India report indicted a CPI(M)-led government of the mid-1990s for a Rs 374.50 crore loss to the exchequer.
Vijayan figured as the ninth accused in a charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Later, the CBI moved to seek the Government"""s consent to prosecute him.
Claus Trendl, Senior Vice President of the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, has been arraigned as the eleventh accused and A Francis, former Joint Secretary (Power) as the tenth accused. There are totally eleven accused in the case.
Among the other accused are: K Mohanachandran, Former Principal Secretary (Power) and former Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Chairman, who is the first accused, G Rajashekharan Nair, former Member (Accounts) (second accused) and P A Sidharthan Menon, former KSEB Chairman.
Three hydel power stations had to be upgraded at Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar. Tenders were invited and was finalised to an Indian consortium and a Canadian MNC.
The foreign company quoted Rs 2.42 crore per MW, the Indian consortium - BHEL and LandT - sought Rs 1.25 per MW. The contract went to the higher bidder, contrary to normal practice. (ANI)