Achuthanandan, Chandy spar over lottery scam

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - The Kerala assembly Tuesday was the scene of a verbal duel between Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan after the speaker disallowed an adjournment motion over an alleged scam in the sale of lottery tickets in the state.

The issue came up in the assembly as Achuthanandan had in a letter earlier to Prime Minister Manmohan sought a central probe into the lottery scam where agents of Bhutan and Sikkim lotteries allegedly siphoned off Rs.80,000 crore in the last four years by violating tax laws and diverting unclaimed prize money.

“We raised the same issue in the last assembly session for the need of a probe and at that time (state) Finance Minister Thomas Issac was adamant that no probe would be done and now see Chief Minister Achuthanandan himself has sought even a NIA (National Investigation Agency) probe,” Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan said.

“This is a shame that Issac is still a minister in your cabinet. He should now be asked to go,” Satheesan added as he sought leave of the house for the adjournment motion.

Achuthanandan hit back by saying that it was Nalini Chidamabaram and her spouse, Home Minister P. Chidhamabaram, who were counsel for lottery king Santiago Martin not long ago.

“We wrote several letters to the centre to take action against Santiago Martin, but nothing happened. Were you not the chief minister a few years back and what did you do? As leader of opposition, how many times I asked you to take action and did you do anything? We know what your relations are with the lottery king,” Achuthanandan said, refering to Chandy.

Chandy too was at his sparring best, taking on treasury bench members, including Achuthanandan, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Law Minister M. Vijayakumar.

“As chief minister, please make statements in a responsible manner and don’t drag in name of Chidhamabaram. He has never appeared when he became a minister. We wish to know why you took four years to hand over the investigation report of senior police official Siby Mathews to the court in the lottery case that is now going on. Please don’t blame the centre for your lapses,” said Chandy.

Expressing dissent over speaker’s refusal to allow the motion to be taken up, Chandy told Achuthanandan that they will support a resolution if the government moves one seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the lottery scam.

Achuthanandan did not respond, following which Chandy led the opposition out of the house.

Filed under: Politics

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