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CPI(M) backs Kerala Minister Mohamed Riyas on contractor-MLA nexus remark

The CPI(M) on Friday backed PWD Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas’ stance that MLAs should not accompany civic contractors to his office.

CPI(M) State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan said Mr. Riyas’ position was in concord with the party’s approach. The Minister had merely mirrored the party’s stance.

The CPI(M) had issued strict guidelines for Ministers and their staff. It has mandated that the government take decisions independent of personal recommendations.

However, Ministers should give a patient hearing to legislators and address issues they raise with the government expeditiously. However, there was no space for favourable mention, he said.

Rejects speculation

Mr. Vijayaraghavan rejected speculation that the CPI(M) legislative party had slammed Mr. Riyas for cautioning legislators against coming to his office in the company of civic contractors. He asked whether any media person was present at the meeting to make such a postulation.

The media reports had suggested that CPI(M) legislator A.M. Shamseer had slammed Mr. Riyas for making such a statement in the Assembly. When contacted, Mr. Shamseer said the narrative was pure media conjecture.

In Kozhikode, Mr. Riyas told reporters that the report that the CPI(M) legislative party had chided him was media inference. “There was no such criticism and I did not apologise as suggested by some sections of the press. Mine was a well thought-out observation in the Assembly and I do stand by it”, he said.

Mr. Riyas said the official-contractor nexus was a primary avenue for corruption. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had flagged it, and he had merely warned legislators of the peril.

Unwarranted: Satheesan

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan told The Hindu that Mr. Riyas’ remark was unwarranted. Non-passage of Bills often impeded civic works. Legislators had the inalienable right to take up such matters with the Minister, he said.

“There is no big-ticket corruption in such matters. It is the prerogative of the MLAs, irrespective of their political affiliation, to ensure development works continue unimpeded in their constituencies,” he said.

Congress leaders P. T. Thomas and K. Babu slammed Mr. Riyas. Mr. Babu said Mr. Riyas had portrayed legislators in poor light and would raise it in the Assembly as a breach of parliamentary privilege. Mr. Thomas accused Mr. Riyas of acting “pompous”.

Mr. Riyas’ remark played out in social media, earning bouquets and brickbats in somewhat equal measure.

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