Kerala CPI in trouble as food scam worsens

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on December 22, 2010

The food scam in the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) controlled by the Food Department worsened on Wednesday with the complainant revealing that Food Minister C Divakaran of the CPI had asked him to withdraw the complaint while the Minister filed a written complaint with the police alleging that he had misbehaved with him at residence.

The controversies were sparked off by a Vigilance report that 24 of the 44 food items supplied by Supplyco were contaminated even with poisonous chemicals or sub-standard. The Vigilance had raided five depots of the corporation in three districts and the samples collected had allegedly shown high levels of contamination and adulteration on analysis.

The Vigilance had found that the green grams to be supplied to schools for children’s mid-day meal had been contaminated with harmful chemical tetrazine and the rice meant for the same purpose was full of insects. Another finding was that huge corruption was involved as the price of standard items had been paid to private distributors for sub-standard food items.

Yahia, a wholesaler on whose complaint the Vigilance had sprung into action, revealed the other day through a TV channel that Food and Civil supplies Minister Divakaran had called him to his house in Thiruvananthapuram to ask him to withdraw the complaint, Yahia also said that the Minister had promised to reciprocate the help if he withdrew the complaint.

Complicating matters further for the CPI Minister, scenes of Yahia and an accomplice (or middleman) reaching the house of Divakaran on December 16 came out in the media, which caused a storm in the State Assembly on Wednesday. Yahia’s companion was said to be a relative of a former chief minister.

When questions about the allegation were raised by the Opposition in the Assembly on Wednesday, Divakaran refused to give a direct answer but asked whether such reports on public personalities could be trusted. He also said that publication of such reports was not suitable for the ethics of journalism.

On Wednesday, six days after the reported meeting at his house with Yahia, the Minister lodged a written complaint with the Thiruvananthapuram City Police Commissioner saying that the wholesaler and his companion had misbehaved with him. Observers said it was strange that the several police personnel on duty at the Minister’s house were not able to deal with Yahia on December 16.

Meanwhile, the Congress-led UDF Opposition staged a walkout in the State Assembly on Wednesday protesting against the denial of permission for an adjournment motion demanding a judicial probe into the food scam. They alleged that the food scam showed the irresponsible way in which the LDF regime was handling vital sectors like food.

This was the second consecutive day CPI’s Ministers were being targeted for attack by the Opposition in the Assembly. On Tuesday, the Assembly had plunged into pandemonium after the Opposition raised the demand for resignation of Revenue KP Rajendran in whose department a huge jobs-for-money scam had broken out recently.

Interestingly, both the job scandal and the food scam broke out after newly elected State CPI secretary CK Chandrappan unleashed scathing attacks against the CPI(M) and its secretary Pinarayi Vijayan on issues like the multi-crore SNC Lavalin corruption case and the Marxist standoff with the Catholic Church.

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