A close aide of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, C.M. Ravindran, finally appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday after ducking three notices served to him.
He has been summoned in connection with his alleged closeness to the prime accused in the gold smuggling case. Besides this, the ED has also received several complaints regarding his business dealings.
The first notice was served to him early last month, but he could not appear before the ED after he turned Covid positive.
Later, he was served two more notices, but on both the occasions he got admitted to the state-run Medical College hospital here on the pretext of being unwell following post Covid complications.
Ravindran got discharged from the hospital at the end of last week, and in his letter to the ED sent through his counsel, he sought two weeks time to appear before them.
With the ED ignoring his two-week request, the latest notice was served on him on Tuesday asking him to come to the Kochi office on Thursday.
While the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have gone hammer and tongs at Vijayan for allegedly shielding Ravindran, Vijayan has time and again come to the defence of his close aide and has accused the national agencies of being vindictive. Last week Vijayan said he would be writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with regards to the national probe agencies.
Ravindran, a CPI(M) nominee, was posted in Vijayan’s office after bypassing rules regarding his educational qualifications and age.
A native of Kozhikode district, Ravindran has been a vital cog between the party and the top leaders of the CPI(M) and was on the personal staff of party leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan from 2006-11, when Balakrishnan was the Home Minister in the V.S. Achuthanandan government.
When Vijayan took over as the Chief Minister in 2016, Ravindran began wielding major clout and his alleged close proximity to disgraced senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar is often talked about.
Soon after Ravindran failed to appear before the ED, the agency started a probe into several of his business ventures, based on a few complaints received by it.
The ED officials went around two dozen business establishments in Kozhikode and Kannur districts and have reportedly got several leads.
After Ravindran failed to appear for the second time, the ED asked the state registration department to submit a list of properties owned by Ravindran. All eyes are now on what the outcome of the interrogation would be at the end of the day.