Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's Additional Private Secretary, CM Raveendran, today appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in response to a fourth summons in a money laundering matter. He is the second key official connected to the Chief Minister's Office to be questioned in the case after former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar, who was later arrested some weeks ago in this connection.
Mr Raveendran had skipped appearing before the probe agency three times. He was hospitalised for COVID-19 and related complications after each of the earlier summons was issued. Both the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP had alleged that he was "evading" the Enforcement Directorate ahead of the state local body polls held last week. The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) had denied the allegation.
The Chief Minister's aide appeared before the agency on a day when the Kerala High Court also dismissed his plea to not be "detained beyond a reasonable time". It must be noted that there is no formal complaint against Mr Raveendran, as argued by the Enforcement Directorate before the High Court.
Senior CPIM leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had earlier claimed that central probe agencies were trying to "derail" the state's development projects and that they were using to further a "political agenda". "All investigating agencies are hovering around officials, being summoned repeatedly," he had said in November.
Kerala is headed for its legislative polls in a few months, with the Congress-led UDF and the BJP in the opposition. In the local bodies polls held a few days ago, and the results of which were declared on Wednesday, the LDF performed exceptionally well, raising hopes for the alliance in the run up to next year's state polls.
The opposition in the state has, in the meantime, targeted the government over allegations of corruption involving the gold smuggling case and also some flagship developmental programmes.