The CPI(M) felt that the ED had timed Mr. Raveendran’s arrival at its office with the local body election.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned C.M. Raveendran, additional private secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to appear at its office in Kochi on December 10.
The date has reportedly raised eyebrows in the Communist Party of India (Marxist). By one account, the CPI(M) felt that the ED had timed Mr. Raveendran’s arrival at its office with the local body election. It is felt that the potential television optics of Mr. Raveendran’s arrival at the ED office would impact voters setting out to polling booths.
The election will be held in three phases on December 8, 10 and 14.
However, CPI(M) acting State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan told reporters in Kollam that a mere summons was no evidence of guilt.
The ED reportedly wanted to question Mr. Raveendran in connection with its ongoing investigation into the money laundering aspect of the gold smuggling case. The agency was also probing the suspected “kickbacks in the various infrastructure contracts” being implemented by the State government.
Mr. Raveendran’s questioning brings ED ominously close to the Chief Minister’s Office. In a court filing, the ED had deposed that M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Mr. Vijayan, and his “team in the CMO” were “fully aware” of the illegal gold import via the “diplomatic channel” of the UAE consulate. There were unconfirmed reports that the agency searched certain private businesses allegedly owned by Mr. Raveendran’s nominees.
The agency reportedly viewed Mr. Raveendran, a political appointee with long innings of service in various LDF governments, as a consummate CMO insider and prime mover behind several infrastructure projects supposedly under its “radar”.
Mr. Raveendran had twice pleaded inability to appear before investigators. He was stricken by COVID-19 and later laid low by residual health issues. He had taken a discharge from hospital recently.
The CPI(M) was reportedly not averse to Mr. Raveendran submitting himself for questioning. It was also purportedly of the opinion that any further procrastination on the part of Mr. Raveendran was not advisable politically and legally.