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Mining scan on CPM

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec. 4: Kerala’s Congress-led government today ordered a probe into mining-related corruption allegations against a CPM leader, after being initially seen to be dithering for over a week.

The delay in announcing an inquiry into the allegations against Elamaram Kareem — the claims relate to his stint as industries minister in the erstwhile Left government — had prompted speculation about the possible motives of chief minister Oommen Chandy.

An anti-Chandy faction in the Congress was quick to see a ploy. The leaders wondered if the chief minister’s faction was trying to use the Kareem controversy as a quid pro quo to buy peace with the CPM, which had campaigned belligerently against Chandy in the solar scam.

Current industries minister P.K. Kunjalikutty recommended a vigilance probe today, over a week after the scandal erupted. But sections of the Congress clamoured for a CBI probe.

Chandy’s bÍte noire and state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala had written to the chief minister demanding a swift probe into the allegations against Kareem, also the state general secretary of CPM trade union wing Citu.

The controversy broke on November 26 following the statements of one M.T. Subair, who claimed he was a former driver of a Kareem confidant.

Subair alleged he and T.P. Noushad, the alleged confidant, had collected Rs 5 crore from the representatives of a Karnataka mining firm at a hotel here and delivered it to Kareem’s Kozhikode home when the CPM leader was industries minister.

Subair sought to link the cash to permission for MTCL Ltd to carry out a survey on iron ore mining in Kozhikode. But Subair produced no evidence.

Kareem has trashed the charges, dubbing Subair a history-sheeter and a Congress worker. He said he had not granted any mining permission and argued it was only the Centre that could do so.