Congress targets Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over PM Modi’s ‘gold smuggling’ remarks

The case relates to the seizure of 30 kg of gold in 2020 from a diplomatic bag in air cargo of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

ByPTI

Published Jan 05, 2024 | 11:45 AMUpdatedJan 05, 2024 | 12:25 PM

Modi at the all-women event in Thrissur, Kerala. (X)

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raked up the controversial gold smuggling case in his speech in Thrissur in Kerala, the Congress in the state on Thursday, 4 January, targeted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging that the Union government failed to take action in that case due to “an understanding” with the BJP.

Modi, while addressing a gathering of women in Thrissur on Wednesday, had mentioned that everyone knows whose office had indulged in gold smuggling.

The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg of gold on 5 July, 2020, from a diplomatic bag in air cargo of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi.

The consignment was found in a bag from the UAE, marked as diplomatic baggage, which is exempted from inspection in accordance with the Vienna Convention.

Vijayan’s then-principal secretary M Sivasankar was arrested in connection with the case.

Also Read: Left, Congress in Kerala attack PM over ‘Modi’s Guarantee’ speech

Opposition leaders react

Talking to media in New Delhi, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan asked Prime Minister Modi why he let go of the issue if he was convinced that someone from that particular office was involved in gold smuggling.

Meanwhile, KPCC chief K Sudhakaran said that the Prime Minister, who claimed to have knowledge about the gold smuggling case, should clarify what action has been taken against the culprits.

“Why did the central agencies fail to raid the concerned office despite knowing the involvement in gold smuggling? Why did the central agencies wrap up the investigation just before the last Assembly elections,” Satheesan asked.

He said that the central agencies were raiding the offices of chief ministers and other ministers of all non-BJP ruled states but has “made peace with the CPI(M) in Kerala”.

“They (CPI(M) and BJP) both have a common agenda to ensure that the Congress does not come to power in Kerala and it was evident in the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday,” Satheesan alleged.

Sudhakaran alleged that the investigating agencies closed the case just before the 2021 Assembly elections and helped Vijayan win a second term in office.

“Around five investigating agencies stormed the Chief Minister’s office when the gold smuggling case came up. But when the 2021 Assembly election came, they left. Also the BJP crossvoted and helped Pinarayi Vijayan become the chief minister for a second time,” Sudhakaran said in a statement.

Sudhakaran also alleged that Vijayan refused to utter a single word against Modi during the Nava Kerala Sadas yatra and BJP workers did not raise any protest either.

Also read: All rhetoric, no announcement: Modi reaches out to Kerala women

CPI(M) leaders respond

However, CPI(M) State Secretary MV Govindan said that it was the central agencies’ failure that they could not catch the real culprits behind the gold smuggling case and that the Congress was supporting them.

“The central investigating agencies failed to nab the culprits behind the gold smuggling case and now they are attempting to point fingers at random leaders in the state,” Govindan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

He said that the people of Kerala understand such matters very well as the BJP has tried such tactics even before.
“Remember Amit Shah conducting a padayatra through Pinarayi Vijayan’s constituency? Let me assure you, the BJP will not be able to win a single seat from Kerala,” Govindan said.

State Revenue Minister and CPI leader K Rajan also dismissed the remarks on the gold smuggling case in Modi’s speech and said that none of the investigating agencies were able to find anything in that matter.

Rajan said that all the agencies of the Union government have been investigating Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the ministers for the past seven years and have found nothing.

“We are not afraid of such fake narratives,” he added.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)