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CPM unfazed by CBI probe into SNC Lavalin deal:Achuthanandan

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Kochi, Mar 1 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan today said the CPI-M was ready to face any inquiry into the controversial SNC Lavalin deal signed during the tenure of the previous LDF government.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Achuthanandan said the party had nothing to hide and was not alarmed by the government decision, announced earlier today, to hand over the probe into the SNC Lavalin deal to the CBI.

''We welcome any inquiry into the deal. I very clearly articulated the party stand during the debate on the issue in the Assembly recently. There is nothing more to add,'' he said.

Asked if the matter would snowball into an election issue, Mr Achuthanandan said the elections were not yet announced. ''When the elections are near, then we will discuss what are the issues,'' he added.

In a major political decision ahead of the Assembly polls expected in May, the Kerala Government today decided to hand over to the CBI, the controversial SNC Lavalin case, relating to the lapses in award of contracts for the renovation of three hydro-electric power projects to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin during the tenure of CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan as Power Minister a decade ago.

Vigilance Director Upendra Verma was also shunted out of the department a day after the investigating agency filed an FIR in the court without naming any politician in the list of accused.

According to the CAG report, the Kerala Government lost more than Rs 300 crore in the deal.

Mr Achuthanandan also criticised the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre for consistently ignoring Kerala's interests in the Railway and Union budgets.

He said the Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram yesterday, ignored the plight of farmers, traditional and small-scale industries while giving incentives and concessions to foreign corporates.

The CPI-M viewed these developments with concern, he added.

UNI ARC SHB KP1748

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