Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of misusing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for political gains in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
Dr. Isaac reacted sharply to the ED decision to probe the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and summon KIIFB CEO K.M. Abraham and Deputy Managing Director Vikramjit Singh for interrogation this week.
The ED move has exposed a political conspiracy involving Ms. Sitharaman to undermine KIIFB and sabotage development initiatives in Kerala, Dr. Isaac alleged, participating in the ‘Janavidhi 2021’ Meet-the-Press programme here.
“The BJP is using the ED for political gains. The Union Finance Minister herself is spearheading the violation of the election model code of conduct,”’ Dr. Isaac said. He added that the State government would meet head-on any confrontation by the Centre on the issue.
Dr. Isaac warned the ED against attempting to threaten or harass the officers who are summoned for questioning. Intimidation tactics will not work in Kerala, he warned.
“They can seek explanations or ask questions, but if they are bent on using threats, they should be aware that Kerala is not ruled by the Congress leaders of north India. The Kerala government is quite capable of protecting its officers from harassment and threats. There is a police force here for maintaining law and order,” Dr. Isaac said.
Dr. Isaac denied that KIIFB had in any way violated the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The Masala Bonds were issued on the strength of the approvals given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as prescribed by FEMA provisions.
KIIFB, which is a body corporate does not accept deposits from anyone, and it cannot be used for money laundering purposes, he said.
Article 293 violations
On the charges that KIIFB loans were a violation of Article 293 of the Constitution, the Minister said the Article in question pertained to ‘borrowing by States,’ and not body corporates such as KIIFB, he said.
The Finance Minister also hit out at Manish Godara, the chief of ED in Kochi, saying that the officer has been posted to Kerala with :clear intentions.” The 2009 batch IRS officer has led several ED raids on behalf of the BJP, he alleged.
The State Government was committed to taking forward the developmental activities under KIIFB. The people of Kerala will force the United Democratic Front (UDF) to correct its stand on KIIFB as they did in the case of the LIFE Mission, he said.
The Meet-the-Press programme was organised jointly by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists district committee and the Kesari Memorial Journalists Trust.