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Chandy puts 'solar scam' ball in Left court

Chandy puts solar scam ball in Left court

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, under attack over the alleged involvement of his office in the solar panel scam, Monday said the controversy may not have arisen if the previous Left government had done its job.

"This fiasco could have been avoided if you had taken the measures to investigate the cases that your government registered against Team Solar company. At that time (in 2010), all you did was to register a civil case against the now-arrested people from that firm. If you had done your job, the present situation could have been avoided," Chandy said on the floor of the assembly.

The assembly resumed its sitting Monday after a two-week break. The session was adjourned last month following seven days of disruption by the Left opposition, which was demanding Chandy's resignation and a judicial probe into the scam, in which three people have been arrested.

Saritha S. Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan had launched a firm called Team Solar that collected large sums of money on the promise of delivering solar panels. The couple was arrested last month after several complaints were received from people who had given Team Solar money, but got nothing in return.

Shalu Menon, a dancer and TV actress, who reportedly accompanied Biju Radhakrishnan when he visited a few prospective investors, was also arrested Friday.

Chandy came under fire after it was found that three of his staff members had close links with Nair.

Chandy's personal staff member Tenny Jopan is behind bars in this case. Two other staff members were sacked, after the case came to light, for being in regular contact with Saritha Nair.

On Monday, for the eighth successive day, the Left opposition sought leave of the house for an adjournment motion on the scam. They pointed out that a businessman, Sreedharan Nair, was swindled of Rs.40 lakh by the people arrested in the case, and the deal took place in Chandy's office.

"Nair has already given his statement before a magistrate, and he is reported to have said that the deal took place in the office of the chief minister," said Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, former home minister, who sought leave for the motion.

Defending Chandy and the manner in which the investigation is progressing, state Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that while the Left government did nothing in the cases that were registered during its tenure, this government has so far arrested three people.

"The probe is going on in the right direction and the bank accounts of all the accused have been frozen. When you registered the cases during your time, you never ever cared to check about the criminal acts," Radhakrishnan told the opposition.

Leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan slammed Chandy, alleging that his family too was embroiled in the scam.

"You are trying to get away by blaming the arrested Jopan. Even a CBI probe won't bring out the truth. Only a judicial probe will bring out the entire truth. And before that, please step down," Achuthanandan said.

Chandy said he had no problem with ordering any kind of probe.

"At the moment, a police probe is on. We will wait for the report, and after that, if you are not satisfied, we can look for other options," Chandy said.

Unhappy with the reply, the opposition legislators started shouting slogans. The speaker adjourned the house for a while, and after its resumption, the situation remained the same. The speaker rushed through the listed business of the day and adjourned the house for the day.


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