Left opposition says Chandy must go

Thiruvananthapuram, June 15 (IANS) Kerala's Left opposition Saturday sought the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Saturday over the contact that members of his staff maintained with a woman who has been arrested in a cheating case.

Saturday was the fourth day that the matter was being raised by members of the opposition.

A TV channel Saturday carried a one-hour interview with Biju Radhakrishnan, who had been in a live-in relationship with the arrested woman, Saritha S. Nair. Radhakrishnan confirmed that his former partner had maintained contacts with two members of the chief minister's office.

"I am now in hiding and my life is in danger. Since last Onam (August 2012) I have no contact with Saritha. I met Chief Minister (Chandy) once to complain to him about the relationship that the then Cinema Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar had with Saritha. It was this relation that spoiled the relations I had with Saritha. She did have close links with the two now-dismissed staff members in Chandy's office. The chief minister has no role in these issues," Radhakrishnan, who has been on the run, said on TV. Special teams of Kerala Police have been formed to nab him.

Radhakrishnan had been the woman's partner also in a solar panel equipment business, which was run under the name Team Solar.

The duo reportedly cheated a good number of potential clients to the tune of crores of rupees. They would also promise to put up windmill farms for large sums of money.

Since 2000, Saritha is alleged to have been involved in more than 13 cases of cheating.

Saritha was arrested June 3, and is under judicial custody. Radhakrishnan remains absconding.

The controversy erupted after the CPI-M backed Kairali TV displayed, four days ago, the call list of Saritha, which included 70 calls made to Chandy's personal assistant Teny Jopan. There were also calls made to the chief minister's gunman, Salim Raj.

In the state assembly Friday, the Left opposition demanded Chandy's resignation on this issue and also sought a judicial probe into the matter.

Chandy dismissed his personal assistant and gunman Friday, and also promised further action once a detailed probe report was made available.

"Chandy should have been more careful while appointing his office staff. This should be an eye-opener for all other ministers," union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi told reporters here Saturday.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said it was too early to make statements on the matter, as a probe was on.

Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty said there was no reason to doubt Chandy's impeccable record of integrity; Finance Minister K.M. Mani asserted that the entire United Democratic Front stood solidly behind the chief minister.

The Left opposition, led by CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, however, continued to demand the chief minister's resignation.

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