Congress leader M.M. Hassan has demanded a vigilance case to be filed against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for using cyclone relief funds to pay for his chopper ride to attend a party meeting.
Simultaneously, the Bharatiya Janata Party urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh to see that the central funds given for Ockhi relief should be monitored closely by New Delhi.
In a bid to end the controversy, the CPI-M Secretariat which meets here on Thursday is likely to foot the bill of Vijayan’s helicopter ride.
A government order surfaced on Tuesday directing payment of Rs 8 lakh be paid from the Ockhi relief fund for Vijayan’s chopper ride on December 26 from Thrissur, where he was attending a Communist Party of India-Marxist meeting, to the state capital to meet a central team that had come visiting from Delhi to study the damage caused by the cyclone on November 30.
After meeting the central government team, Vijayan flew back to Thrissur and his government debited the chopper ride’s expenses to the relief fund.
Hassan, the President of Congress in Kerala, told reporters here that this was nothing but corruption.
“He has used public money to pay for his travel to attend party meetings and it’s a blatant lie that his office said that no one knew about it. In the government order itself, the name of the Private Secretary of the Chief Minister is mentioned. How can they say they have no knowledge?” asked Hassan.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Vijayan should at least apologize to the people of Kerala who generously contributed to the relief fund.
State BJP President Kummanem Rajasekheran denounced Vijayan.
“Vijayan is blowing up money which should go to the grieving families of the fisherfolks who lost their near and dear ones. Vijayan’s attitude towards the weaker section is appalling. He took several days to even go and express his sympathies after the cyclone,” he said.
Kerala BJP General Secretary M.T. Ramesh asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to monitor the cyclone funds.
Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran has sought a report from Revenue Secretary P.H. Kurian, who came out with the controversial order.
Meanwhile, the Latin Diocese Vicar General Eugene Pereira said all the funds collected and disbursed in the name of Ockhi relief should be made public. (IANS)