Kerala opposition parties have upped the ante against beleaguered Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan by requesting governor Arif Mohammad Khan to order a probe into alleged kickbacks received by the Speaker for several assembly projects. Sreeramakrishnan is already facing many allegations in Kerala gold smuggling case.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala wrote a letter to the governor on Friday seeking a probe against the Speaker.
In the letter, he said crores of rupees were spent during the Festival of Democracy programme, held two years ago, and some of the projects to modify assembly buildings were given to a labour co-operative society close to the ruling party, without any tender.
“More charges against him came out after the smuggling case surfaced. He splurged money using the provision that expenses of assembly should not be subjected to scrutiny. We suspect serious kickbacks in organising the Festival of Democracy programme, appointing consultants for assembly TV channel and in building modification projects” Chennithala alleged in the letter.
He alleged the Speaker had spent more than Rs 100 crore in the name of renovations and celebrations and many people with dubious reputations were involved in these projects.
Earlier, BJP state president K Surendran had alleged that the Speaker made several foreign trips with the main accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, and he was aware of her activities and helped her on several occasions.
Opposition Congress and BJP had sought his resignation in the wake of these allegations.
However, he had rejected these charges saying his acquaintance with Swapna Suresh was only as an employee of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate and he was not aware of her past or other dealings. He denied the opposition charges that he made several trips to the West-Asian countries with her.
“I never made any trip with her and or met her abroad. It is a fact that I knew her as an employee of the consulate and attended some functions after getting invited by her. Those who see negativity everywhere will suspect wrong even in a handshake or patting,” he had said in a press conference on Thursday.
The opposition had criticised him citing an old video in which he was seen patting her after a function.
When customs busted the gold smuggling racket in July, Suresh was working as a consultant with the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. Before this, she worked at the UAE consulate at the state capital. Later her degree was found to be a fake.
Meanwhile, the state jail department has rejected Suresh’s claim that she was threatened in jail not to take big names. After inquiry, the jail DIG submitted a report to the jail chief, saying her submission before a court in Kochi was not true. Other than probe officials and her relatives, nobody met her in the jail, the report said.
A couple of days ago, Suresh had told a court in Kochi that her life was in danger and sought special protection for herself in jail and for family members outside. She said she was under pressure not to take big names and some people met her in the jail a couple of times to pressurise her in this regard.
Later, the court directed the prisons department to provide her enough security in the jail. The prisons department later decided to deploy a woman guard in her cell and ordered a probe into her statement.