New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has alleged that the gold smuggling case in Kerala is being used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to destabilise the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the state and the issue is being used to target Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
IAS officer M Sivasankar, sacked principal secretary of Kerala Vijayan, was earlier summoned by the customs department as part of the ongoing investigation into the gold smuggling case where gold, weighing over 30 kg and valued at around Rs 15 crore, was seized.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been entrusted with the probe into the case by the Centre.
"The gold smuggling case in Kerala is being used by the Congress-led UDF and the BJP to tarnish the image of the LDF government and (is) a joint effort to destabilise the government headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan," said the latest editorial of the CPI(M) mouthpiece People's Democracy, published on Wednesday.
The Congress and the UDF have demanded the resignation of the chief minister and have launched a "struggle" to achieve the same. The BJP is also conducting protests with the same demand. The UDF had announced that it will move a no-confidence motion against the government in the assembly.
The editorial says that smuggling of gold into Kerala from the Gulf countries has been a regular occurrence over the years and that there was a spurt in gold smuggling after the COVID-19 pandemic, when flights resumed and there was an increase in chartered flights to the state.
Around Rs 100 crore worth of gold was seized by the customs authorities in Kerala's three airports in the past six months, the editorial said.
But the contraband gold sought to be smuggled in through Thiruvananthapuram airport on June 30 was significant for the method adopted and the size of the consignment – it was through diplomatic baggage and weighed 30 kilograms, it said.
"The state police is not the investigating authority nor has it the power to file cases in such matters. It falls in the jurisdiction of the Customs Department which is under the Centre. The state police can only have an ancillary role,¨ it said.
CPI(M) said that as soon as the ramifications of the case became known, the chief minister wrote to the Prime Minister asking for an effective investigation by any of the Central agencies concerned, so that the whole chain of the smuggling operation from its source and the end beneficiaries could be found out and brought to book.
"The gold smuggling case is, thus, being used to make an all-out effort to target the chief minister and the LDF government. In doing so, the Congress leadership is even ignoring the fact that one of the accused, Sandeep Nair, has links with the BJP. It is more intent on seeking to harness the Modi government in its fight against the LDF government.
"The Congress knows very well that the BJP government is misusing the central agencies for its political purposes and hopes that they will do so in this case too," it said.
The editorial also alleged that the Congress party is proving its political and ideological bankruptcy in Kerala by adopting a disruptive stance over the issue.
"It has no qualms whatsoever in ganging up with the BJP to target the Left. It is also a sad commentary on the state of the party as a whole as the recent events in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan show.”
"The BJP is going all-out to destabilise Congress state governments using money power and other unscrupulous methods. But the Congress party riven by factions and power hungry leaders is facilitating the BJP's nefarious designs. In Kerala, this type of politics and power games will be met with a stinging rebuff from the people," the editorial said.