In Kerala CM chopper row, CPM may foot bill


Gone are the days when the party was deeply divided between Vijayan and former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who, even though he led the campaign from the 2016 assembly elections, was upstaged by the former and prevented from occupying for the Chief Minister's chair a second time. Kanniyakumari District in Tamil Nadu and Kerala's coastal region bore the brunt of the attack.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has faced flak for allegedly diverting cyclone relief fund for his helicopter ride. Congress leader Ramesh Chinnithala didn't mince his words while criticizing the chief-minister when he said that the chief-minister's act is akin to taking alms from a beggar.

He also clarified that as soon as he learnt of the issue, he made arrangements to make the payment from the public administration account.

Late previous year, all four CPI cabinet ministers made a decision to boycott the weekly cabinet meeting to protest the way Vijayan, they said, arbitrarily handled things.

"The government fund was utilised for a private goal", he said alleging the Chief Minister "has committed corruption to the tune of Rs eight Lakhs (cost incurred for the journey)".

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Stung by the media expose over the copter ride, courtesy Ockhi fund, Government sources cite the precedent of former chief minister Oommen Chandy using an IAF copter and travelling to Idukki to visit Cheeyappara area on August 6, 2013, where a landslide had occurred the previous day. "It was only on Tuesday evening that I came to know the bill was paid using the disaster relief fund". The total amount spent on the Central team adds up to Rs 18.5 lakh when the chief minister's helicopter expenses are also added.

State BJP President Kummanem Rajasekheran said denounced Vijayan.

There is an attempt to portray the incident as a theft by the CM, he said.

Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran has sought a report from Revenue Secretary P.H. Kurian, who came out with the controversial order.

Meanwhile, the SC has send a notice to two, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was previously acquitted by the Kerala High Court. Vijayan had rushed from the party meeting to the state capital to meet the central team which was in Kerala to take stock of the disaster in the wake of Cyclone Ochki. That was why the State Disaster Management Authority issued the order for the payment from the disaster relief fund, it was stated.