Ahead of elections in Kerala due later this year, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has recommended a CBI probe into cases against former chief minister Oommen Chandy and five others filed over allegations of sexual abuse linked to the state's infamous 'solar scam'.
The opposition Congress called the move "politically motivated", saying that since the government could not find anything against the party leaders in the last five years, it had taken the decision as elections were around the corner. Mr Chandy said he was ready to face any probe.
"The Left has been in power in Kerala for five years and they have not been able to prove any allegation against us. Now they are trying to ally with powers at the centre. We are not against any probe. You may remember about how during a by-election the state government said based on solar commission report, they will take action. Where are those actions?" he said.
"Despite a case registered under non-bailable section based on a complaint in 2018, why has the state government not taken any action till now? And now they are giving it over to CBI? Kerala Chief Minister will have to respond to this. People are watching everything," Mr Chandy added.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan also attacked the government, saying that the decision for the Central Bureau of Investigation probe had been taken because of the upcoming elections.
Protesting the government move, Youth Congress workers took out a march to the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram and burnt an effigy of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
However, CPI-M state secretary in-charge A Vijayaraghavan rejected the charge of political vendetta, and told reporters that it was only a natural course of action to "ensure justice to the complainant."
The cases against the six, including Mr Chandy, were registered over the past several years and investigated by the crime branch of the police based on a complaint by the woman accused in the multi-crore solar panel scam during the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government that she was sexually exploited by them in 2012.
Besides Mr Chandy, who was recently appointed head of a 10-member election management panel of the party for the state polls expected in April-May, Congress MPs KC Venugopal, Hibi Eden and Adoor Prakash and MLA AP Anil Kumar and BJP leader AP Abdulla Kutty are the accused in the six cases.
The case against Abdulla Kutty had been registered in 2014 when he was a Congress MLA from Kannur. He later joined BJP.
The complainant, who had levelled allegations of rape against the Congress leaders, had recently written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking a CBI probe as the police probe had stalled.
The woman and the other accused in the scam had allegedly duped several investors of crores of rupees by offering to set up solar panel units for them.
In a letter to the police commissioner on July 19, 2013, the woman had levelled charges of sexual misconduct and corruption against several Congress and UDF leaders, including Mr Chandy, some of his ministers and two former union ministers.
(With inputs from PTI)