The opposition Congress and the BJP in Kerala on Thursday (September 17) hit out at the Left government in the state and sought the Chief Minister’s resignation over the appearance of Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team probing the gold smuggling case.
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, said the government should resign and face elections.
Earlier in the day, the state woke to the visuals of Minister Jaleel entering the NIA office in Kochi at 6 am. Unconfirmed reports said the Minister had sought a late-night slot for questioning to avoid media glare. The Minister turned up at the NIA office in a private vehicle.
State Law Minister A.K. Balan said ‘seeking information’ was part of the procedure of investigation and there was no need for anyone to resign.
“The NIA normally questions someone for a scheduled crime. At least now, the Chief Minister should seek the resignation of Jaleel. It seems like the Chief Minister is refusing to seek the resignation because he fears the probe will reach his office. The government should resign under these circumstances and face an election,” Chennithala said at a press conference at Haripad, his home constituency in Alappuzha district.
Balan hit back at the opposition leader and told the media in Palakkad that the demand for resignation would have had some sense if Jaleel had been arraigned as an accused in ‘any case.
“Its just part of the procedure that the investigating agency seeks information on the matters. There is no need for anyone to resign just because some allegations were raised. If he (Jaleel) is arraigned as an accused, then there is a sense in demanding the resignation but now there is no need for it…,” Balan said.
Meanwhile, BJP state chief K Surendran said the allegations faced by Jaleel were serious and sought his resignation and asked the government to step down.
“The chief minister should understand that its notright for someone who can be influential to remain in power while the investigation is on. The allegations he (Jaleel) is facing are quite serious. All his phone calls details show he had regular contact with the gold smuggling accused,” Surendran said at a press conference.
Visuals aired by TV news channels showed the Minister, who is facing the Enforcement Directorate probe into alleged FCRA violation in accepting consignments of Holy Quran from UAE through diplomatic channel, arriving at the NIA office at 6 am in a private car.
There was no official word either from the NIA or from the Minister’s office about the development.
Last week, Jaleel had appeared before the ED here and his statement was recorded.
The minister had earlier admitted that a consignment containing Holy Quran had been received from the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram which a top Customs official had referred to as “prima facie violation of FCRA” (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act).
After the media reported about his interrogation by the ED, the minister had posted on Facebook: “Truth will prevail. Only the truth. Even if the whole world opposes it, nothing else will happen.”
Officials had said Jaleel is under the scanner of the central agencies after he publicly claimed that the consignments brought to Thiruvananthapuram during Ramzan month contained Holy Quran for distribution in his constituency.
(With inputs from Agencies)