Demanding the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, BJP has initiated an 18-day long hunger strike over the Kerala Gold smuggling case alleging involvement of officials from Kerala CMO. Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs V Muralidharan has called it "shameless" and "unprecedented" that CMO is involved in such a scam. The case has not only taken a political turn with the alleged involvement of CMO officials, but the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which was roped in to investigate the matter also suspected links with terror funding.
"The ones involved in the scam are very close aides of Pinrayi Vijayan. It is highly shameless and is happening for the first time. The people who have been arrested were protected and assisted by the office of Pinrayi Vijayan. It is unprecedented that the office of the CM of a state is involved in a such a gold scam," Muralidharan said.
Making the chief minister the focal point in his argument, the BJP leader said, "Swapna Suresh's involvement also is not being questioned by CM. The Kerala intelligence also didn't play its role with loyalty. CM is saying that he didn't know about the scam. He doesn't have the right to sit as the leader of the government. That's what the people of Kerala have been demanding. His acumen was also highlighted during the pandemic."
Addressing the Media after initiating the day-long relay hunger strike from Delhi. We demand the resignation of @VijayanPinaray. @CMOKerala sheltered traitors & supported those working against the nation's interests. @narendramodi @AmitShah @JPNadda @PMuralidharRao @surendranbjp pic.twitter.com/tl77KQTkSa— V Muraleedharan (@VMBJP) August 2, 2020
National General-Secretary of BJP Muralidhar Rao has also slammed the Kerala CM saying that he cannot wash his hands off the case since the people will not forget it. He further alleged that the entire operation was carried out by the state government.
"The common man knows this. If the CM has the guts, he should release the CCTV of his office bearers and every trail should be out. The suspension of Sivsankar is just the tail of the scam. The head is still operating the government," Muralidhar said.
Apart from BJP demanding the resignation of CM, Kerala Congress has passed a no-confidence motion against the Pinarayi-led government.
On July 5, Customs officials seized 30 kg of gold worth Rs.15 crore at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport from a diplomatic cargo addressed to a person in the UAE Consulate. Sarith Kumar, who worked at the UAE Consulate was arrested in this regard. Reportedly, he told the Customs about the role of Swapna Suresh, an ex-Consulate employee who worked as the manager of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited, who was appointed on the instructions of Principal Secretary M Sivasankar.
The case took a political turn after Swapna Suresh's photos with Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan surfaced. It has been alleged that Suresh has links with the CM and has been seen with him at parties when she was working at the UAE Consulate. Following the backlash over her appointment, she was removed by the state government. On July 16, Vijayan announced that the suspension of his former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar pending the departmental inquiry.
NIA court has remanded Sarith Kumar, the prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case to NIA custody for 7 days. After the NIA took over the case, it registered an FIR against Sarith Kumar, Swapna Suresh, and others while the further investigation is underway.