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Solar scam: Group war in Congress gains momentum

Solar scam: Group war in Congress gains momentum

Thiruvananthapuram: As the Congress central leadership ruled out replacement of Oommen Chandy as Chief Minister and a reshuffle of the Cabinet in the backdrop of solar scam, the war of words among the Congress leaders belonging to both the ‘A’ faction and the ‘I’ group hit the headlines once again on Sunday.

To begin with, former KPCC President K Muraleedharan on Sunday struck a discordant note by picking holes in the police investigation in the case.

Seen as an uncalled for comment that would mar the party's image in times of distress, KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala immediately conveyed his displeasure at his colleague's remarks.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here, Muraleedharan, son of late Congress stalwart K Karunakaran, accused the investigators of being selective in their approach.

While three persons of Chandy's personal staff were alleged to have links with the scam accused Saritha Nair, the police had bothered to arrest only one of them and this showed that they were being selective, he said.

The statement of Muraleedharan is widely seen as a potshot at Home Minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan.

In a swift reaction to the barbed comment, Chennithala "censured" Muraleedharan over phone and told him sternly he should refrain from issuing such statements capable of creating confusion among the party ranks, party sources said.

Chandy has been under attack from CPI(M)-led LDF opposition in the context of solar scam, which pertains to cheating of several persons of huge sums by the accused Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan offering them solar energy business deals.

In luring their victims, the duo had allegedly flaunted their "influence" with some people in Chief Minister's Office, bringing Chandy under a cloud.

On the defencive for nearly a month since the scam surfaced, Chandy yesterday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to explain the political situation and later said the issue of leadership change and reshuffle of the state Cabinet was not discussed at the meeting.

He had also said Gandhi wanted to see a united Congress and party-led UDF in the state. .

Meanwhile, Defence Minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony asserted there would be no leadership change in the government in the backdrop of the solar scam.

"To my knowledge there will be no change in leadership and high command has also not given any indication on the same," he told reporters in Kochi.

Replying to a question, Antony, who had been backing Chandy on the issue, said he was not a judge to decide whether the solar scam had dented the government image.

"Controversies are bound to be there when there is a government. But on that score, change in leadership will not happen," he said adding that opposition should show more patience.

Last week, Antony had ruled out any change in the state government on the solar panel scam issue and said investigations were underway.

Later addressing Congress workers after inaugurating party office at nearby Karimugal, Antony said the problem in the state Congress should be settled in the state itself, and the party had competent leadership.

Congress was a party which allowed its cadre to express their views freely, he said.

"Everyone has the freedom to air their views. However, the views should be express at the appropriate fora only, he said cautioning disunity in the party would not harm only a single person, but affect everyone.

(With PTI inputs)

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