Thiruvananthapuram: A purported move by the Kerala government to withdraw the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to operate in its territory appeared to have become an irritant in the State's arguably fraught relationship with the Centre.
If implemented, Kerala will join a line-up of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled States to ban the central agency from functioning in their respective jurisdiction without the explicit consent of the provincial government.
The States include West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and, soon, Maharashtra.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan decried the government's reported plan to the ban the CBI.
The State government wanted to fend off the CBI to cover up high-level corruption and save leaders of the CPI(M) from being investigated for recurrent political murders in Northern Kerala, he said.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government had brazenly recruited top lawyers from New Delhi to prevent the CBI from investigating Life Mission, a State-agency involved in providing free housing for the poor, on the charge of violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
The CPI(M) also feared that overlapping investigations by central law enforcement agencies into the UAE gold smuggling case and narcotic busts in Karnataka would reach the doorstep of its leadership, he added.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Congress-led United Democratic Front (LDF) would oppose the move to ban the CBI.
He said the LDF wanted to conceal its corruption and other high crimes, including playing second fiddle to gold smugglers treasonously.