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CPM May be Second Party after AAP to be Named Accused in Money Laundering Case

CPM May be Second Party after AAP to be Named Accused in Money Laundering Case

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 29: After the BJP made inroads into the CPM-bastion of Kerala, more trouble seems to be waiting for the leftist party which is likely to emerge as the second political party in the country to be named an accused in a corruption case.

Kerala is the only state where the CPM is still in power after the Trinamool Congress threw it out in West Bengal and the BJP washed it out in Tripura. But the BJP winning the first seat in the Lok Sabha from Kerala in the just-concluded parliamentary elections as waved the warning signal for the party that the saffron surge has started in the southern-most state in the country. The actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi won the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat for the BPJ and was also appointed a minister of state in the Modi 3.0 government at the Centre.

Mr Gopi’s victory may have been made easier by an alleged scam by some CPM activists in a local co-operative bank where many depositors lost their life savings because the money was siphoned off to some CPM leaders and reportedly committed suicide. The Enforcement Directorate, which is probing allegations of crores being siphoned at the CPM-controlled Karuvannur cooperative bank in Thrissur, is set to list the party as an accused in the case.

If so, the CPM would become the second political party to be listed as an accused in a money laundering case. Last month, the probe agency had named the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in Delhi, as an accused in the Delhi excise policy case in which many of its leaders, including the chief minister Arvind Kejriwal have been put behind the bars.

While in the Delhi excise policy case, the amount allegedly involved in money laundering was estimated at around 100 crores, in the Thrissur case, it is alleged that an estimated Rs 300 crore was siphoned by bank staff, and the scam involved local functionaries of the ruling CPM. The scam had rocked state CPM which took pride in Kerala’s robust cooperative movement, mostly controlled by the party, in 2021. Eleven members of the bank’s governing body and six staff members were arrested in connection with 18 cases.

The ED had claimed that the bank had disbursed benami loans at the behest of local MLA and former minister A C Moideen and had also raided his house in Thrissur. Moideen had served as minister for the local self-government department from 2016 to 2021 during the LDF regime. Prior to that, he had served as CPM district secretary in Thrissur.

The bank had 12,000 depositors, and a few had allegedly committed suicide after the bank failed to return their savings.

The ED has now provisionally attached some party office land and Rs 60 lakh cash deposit at various bank accounts held by the CPM.

Pleading innocence, the CPM state secretary M V Govindan told the media that the party would confront the case legally as well as politically. By listing the party as an accused, the ED was trying to create a smokescreen that the party has involvement in the case, he said.

“As per the CPM style, land for party offices are purchased by the respective district committees, but the title deed would be executed in the name of the party district secretary. The move by the ED to hold the party as an accused was “politically motivated,” he said.

The ED had last year initiated the probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, after taking a cue from the Kerala police probe. The land that has been attached, situated at Porathissery in Thrissur, was meant for the party branch committee office. It was executed in the name of CPM district secretary M M Varghese. It is alleged that black money was channelled to purchase the land.

The issue had figured prominently in the Lok Sabha elections in Thrissur constituency paving the way for the BJP’s victory, the first seat ever for the saffron party from Kerala. The Kerala government also had earlier raised concerns against the Centre’s recent interventions in the state’s co-operative sector.

The Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had claimed that the BJP-ruled Centre was making a bid to shatter the credibility of the state’s co-operative sector and the destabilising attempts had begun during demonetisation. The alleged money laundering case registered against the Thrissur bank was one of the points of concern for the Vijayan government of the CPM losing hold of the cooperative sector in the state.




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