The Kerala assembly on Monday witnessed heated war of words between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Congress-led UDF members over the investigation of the Kodakara hawala money heist case, with the latter arguing that the LDF government and the Chief Minister was trying to protect the saffron party leaders allegedly involved in the crime and staged a walkout in protest.
The opposition members, while moving a notice seeking an adjournment motion on the issue, alleged that though some BJP leaders had masterminded the illegal money transfer, the state police had listed them as witnesses in the charge sheet, recently filed in a local court, and so the investigation should be handed over to a central agency for further probe.
They also suspected a secret BJP-CPI(M) nexus to scuttle the investigation into the alleged crores of rupees-worth scam.
In his reply, Mr Vijayan denied the UDF charge that the Marxist party-led government was trying to settle the case without handing over the probe to find out the source of the hawala money to any authorised central agency. He hit back that the opposition was deliberately trying to hide the facts and divert public attention.
He said the central agencies have explicit powers under their respective law to probe the source of money and the opposition had come up with such a charge though they clearly knew that the state government was not required to hand over the investigation to them.
Alleging that the money, looted at Kodakara, was part of a huge cash flow arranged to influence the April 6 Assembly polls and the state police had investigated the matter within its ambit and filed a charge sheet, the chief minister also said as many as 250 witnesses, including BJP state president K Surendran and 17 state or district office bearers of that party, had already been questioned in the
"It has already become clear that Dharmarajan, one of the accused in the case who was acting as a hawala money agent, had close connections with BJP''s state coordinating secretary M Ganesh and state office secretary Gireeshan Nair besides Surendran," Mr Vijayan said.
According to the charge sheet, the looted money was brought from Karnataka for the party's election campaign as per the instructions of these saffron party leaders, he told the Assembly.
Mr Vijayan also said the police investigation was only in a primary stage and the the BJP leaders, who were listed as witnesses now, may become accused in the later stage of probe.
However, the opposition reiterated their charges that the BJP leaders were made witnesses instead of accused in the case as part of efforts to scuttle it.
Roji M John (Congress), who moved notice for the motion, alleged the BJP had tried to sabotage the democratic process of election by using the black money.
"Only the Kerala police may know the magic of turning a conspirator into a witness in the case. We already know that things will turn this way only," he said.
Coming down heavily on the Chief Minister and the government, leader of opposition in the state assembly VD Satheesan claimed through the police investigation, it has been ensured that no BJP leader would be made accused in the hawala money heist case.
He also alleged that the "deal'' between the CPI(M) and BJP was fixed during the recent meeting between Vijayan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
"The charge sheet gives an impression that it is just a robbery case. The opposition demanded a central agency probe to find out the source of the illegal money. The police case will not be over if the central agencies also launch a probe," the leader said, adding that the opposition has never said that there is no need of the police investigation.
A Special Investigation Team probing the hawala money heist case last week filed a charge sheet in a local court against 22 people allegedly involved in the crime.
The charge sheet was filed in connection with the case of alleged heist of hawala money and conspiracy behind the action that occurred during the time of Assembly elections in April this year.
In the charge sheet running into 625 pages, the investigation team named 219 people including BJP state chief K Surendran as witnesses.
The SIT has alleged that the money was brought for the BJP during the elections and recommended a probe by the central agencies including Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax and the Election Commission to trace the source of looted money.
The case was also related to allegations of hawala connections linked to some state leaders of the BJP.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)