Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: Congress in
Kerala faced a major embarrassment on Wednesday with AICC
spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi appearing in the Kerala High
Court for the promoters of other state lotteries at a time
when the party was engaged in a bitter battle against the LDF
government over the lottery issue.
While the LDF seized it as a weapon to strike back at the
Congress, embittered Youth Congress workers staged a protest
against Singhvi in Kochi, alleging his appearance in the case
amounted to an `insult` to the party in the state.
Defending himself, Singhvi, who appeared for Megha
distributors, told reporters that he had taken up the case as
a counsel and not as a spokesman of the Congress.
Congress and its UDF allies had been alleging that the
LDF government was helping the promoters of other state
lotteries who were siphoning off huge amounts from the state.
With the lottery issue emerging as a big row, LDF
government decided to stop accepting tax advance from the
promoters of Bhutan and Sikkim lotteries, citing violation of
rules resulting in virtual stoppage of sales of other state
The state government had also brought in an ordinance
amending the Kerala Tax on Paper Lottery Act, making the tax
provisions more stringent.
Senior Congress leader and state Opposition leader
Oommen Chandy and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala expressed
reservations over Singhvi appearing in the case without
considering the state party unit`s stern stand on the issue.
Youth Congress leaders said after their protest in Kochi
that they would complain to central leadership against
Addressing a press meet here, state Finance Minister T M
Thomas Isaac said Singhvi`s appearance had exposed the
Congress` dubious stand on the issue. "Our stand that the
central leaders of the Congress ranging from Chidambaram (Home
Minister) to Singhvi have been protecting the lottery mafia
has been vindicated," he said.
Isaac, a CPI-M central committee member, also said the UDF
now would have to answer a lot of questions on the issue. Both
the UDF and LDF governments had failed to control other state
lotteries for the last 12 years because of the `unholy nexus`
between central leaders and lottery mafia, he alleged.
The two rival Fronts in Kerala have been engaged in a
wordy duel over the lottery issue in the last few months. The
UDF has taken it up as a one of the major themes against the
LDF in its campaign for civic polls next month.