Family, private property and the State

This title of Friedrich Engels’ work based on Karl Marx’s precis which he accidentally found while rummaging through the latter’s manuscripts not so accidentally finds parallels with the present crisis the Communist Party of India (Marxist) faces now.
Family, private property and the State


 Kochi |This title of Friedrich Engels’ work based on Karl Marx’s precis which he accidentally found while rummaging through the latter’s manuscripts not so accidentally finds parallels with the present crisis the Communist Party of India (Marxist) faces now.

It has been a series of allegations of money laundering that have been haunting the party over the last few years. Somehow, it has been able to weather the storm for obvious and inexplicable reasons, be it the case of gold smuggling or the Life Mission fraud which has had just one victim, none other than the Chief Minister’s right hand, now on bail on health grounds.

However, the last in the series and of undue favours to his daughter by a mining company that has been under the cloud for services not rendered appears to be a strong nail in the coffin for the party that has been fighting hard the charge of nepotism.

To make matters worse has seen one of its former ministers coming under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate over a cooperative bank fraud that runs into crores. A a large number of people who deposited their hard-earned money see it vanish with party concurrence. And this happened despite party insiders raising the complaint years ago and the then Minister, who held the party charge in the district, failing to act.

It was only on Saturday that a vigilance court rejected a plea for a vigilance probe into the charges that Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd had paid huge amounts as donations to political leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, besides over Rs 1.72 crore to Vijayan’s daughter and her firm for an annual maintenance contract for which services were never provided. The order of the Income-Tax Settlement Board, a quasi-judicial body, clearly states that the amount was paid because she was the daughter of a prominent politician. The court rejected the plea as there was no proof provided for the amounts paid to political leaders, which was the only option before the court.

The IT order says the inflated accounts were part of the company’s ways to pay political leaders huge sums to ensure smooth functioning. The CPM’s claim of not having given any undue favour to the company is crystal clear - the company functioning has run smooth over the last seven years of its rule.  

But what makes the matter serious is the clear finding that the amount was paid to Pinarayi’s daughter for services not rendered, indicating that it was bribe.

Quick to respond was the CPM State secretariat which surprisingly made a bid to whitewash Pinarayi’s daughter and her company as if it were a party-run setup. It is the party policy not to accept donations from corporates. Claims and counterclaims of having paid Integrated GST for the amount received were put forth by the party leadership through a statement, but not the documents. That this was also not mentioned by her husband Minister in his financial details while submitting his nomination for the elections remains unanswered.

Worse still is the party claiming that it is for the IT department or Central agencies concerned to look into the matter which has not been done so far. Like a refrain, the party claims that it is a ‘ploy’ of the BJP-led Government to ‘tarnish’ the image of the CPM and the government it leads.

It is an ethical issue whether the Chief Minister’s daughter is bound to engage in business where the Government is involved since the mining company is a public limited company. The State Government’s Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation has a share in it. So, it is public money that could have been laundered and the people of the State need to get a clarification.

Moreover, it is the dignity of the Chief Minister that has been damaged and if there is no truth in the findings of the IT body, he is duty-bound to move the court and tell the people of the State he is ruling that his hands are not tainted. There were instances earlier when one of the accused in the gold smuggling case raised serious allegations against some of the CPM leaders, even questioning their moral side. But the party or even those tainted remained mum.

The Chief Minister, who at the drop of a hat used to address the media, has maintained a deafening silence that only thickens the atmosphere.

Public memory cannot and should not be short. For during the last rule of Congress-led UDF, there was a major charge against the then Finance Minister and the CPM led the agitation against him. But when the court ruled that “Cesar’s wife should be above suspicion”, he had to bow out. That later his party switched sides to the CPM’s LDF and the late Minister’s son was selectively defeated is a pointer to public revenge. Now even Cesar’s daughter needs to be above suspicion. But will the party act or continue to let its leaders continue with the meaningless harangues making a mockery of the party and its leaders is a big question before the people of ‘progressive’ Kerala. 

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