Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to the Chief Election Commissioner, alleging that the Model Code of Conduct is being “torpedoed at the instance of some Union Ministers”. Mr Vijayan sought the CEC’s intervention to ensure “free and fair elections”.
Kerala will vote in Assembly elections on April 6.
The letter comes after the Enforcement Directorate filed a case against the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) – a key state body for funding infrastructure and development-related projects – for alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
Apart from the letter Mr Vijayan tweeted: “Despite MCC being in force, Enforcement Directorate under Finance Ministry is being misused for media propaganda motivated by political reasons subsequent to (Union Finance Minister) Nirmala Sitharaman’s election rally attacking KIIFB.”
“Election Commission of India should intervene, ensure MCC is upheld and Kerala elections are free and fair,” he added.
Despite MCC being in force, @dir_ed under @FinMinIndia, is being misused for media propaganda motivated by political reasons, subsequent to @nsitharaman‘s election rally speech attacking KIIFB. @ECISVEEP should intervene, ensure MCC is upheld & Kerala elections are free & fair.
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) March 3, 2021
In his letter the Chief Minister said the issue of Masala Bonds was neither recent nor urgent.
He alleged the “authority conferred on investigating agencies is being appropriated for electoral gains… The aim is to create a smear campaign against the officials and state government”.
The principal opposition – the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP – have both accused the CPM-led state government of corruption.
“The case by Enforcement Directorate is also preceded by a CAG report which has found alleged irregularities with KIIFB. This has nothing to do with the current elections. The agency is probing alleged violations by the state government,” PK Krishna Das, a member of the BJP’s National Executive, said.
The party has one legislator in the state.
The opposition, including the Congress, has alleged that the Masala Bonds floated by the KIIFB exceeded the state government’s jurisdiction.
“We have been questioning the financial prudence and legality of issuing Masala Bonds starting from 2019. The Enforcement Directorate has issued notice to senior officials as well,” Mathew Kuzhalnadan, the KPCC General Secretary, alleged.
“Now the Left, as well as the Finance Minister, are arguing the centre is attacking, or trying to intervene in, the development strategy of the state. This is ridiculous,” he added.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has maintained the Masala Bonds were floated according to RBI guidelines. “The centre never objected to the Masala Bonds. And now is using its investigating agency to harass”, Mr Isaac said.