Why Jacob Thomas is offering to quit as Kerala’s vigilance chief

Is the Left Front govt in Kerala walking the talk on giving free hand to its officers, if able administrators like Jacob Thomas and KM Abraham are feeling the heat?

A file photo of Jacob Thomas, an IPS officer who has offered his resignation as the chief of Kerala’s anti-corruption wing to the Kerala government.
A file photo of Jacob Thomas, an IPS officer who has offered his resignation as the chief of Kerala’s anti-corruption wing to the Kerala government.

Thiruvananthapuram: In a dramatic turn of events, Jacob Thomas, an IPS officer who has been making news for his anti-corruption crusade in Kerala, has offered his resignation as the chief of Kerala’s anti-corruption wing, known as the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, to the government on Tuesday, local reports said.

The appointment of Thomas as the head of vigilance department was one of the first decisions of Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Front government after coming into power in May. True to his reputation, Thomas has been going after powerful politicians across the spectrum and ruffling feathers since then.

The news comes at a time when another civil service officer, additional chief secretary K.M. Abraham, has also expressed displeasure over allegedly targeted attacks. The developments are significant because the ruling Left Front government in Kerala is at pains to stress that they are different from the Congress and the BJP when it comes to corruption.

Clearly, if reputed officers quit over feeling vindicated for their anti-corruption stand, it would be a question of whether the government is walking the talk or how much free hand it gives to its officers. The government was already earning some brownie points there. The sacking of E. P. Jayarajan, a senior Communist leader, last week from the post of a minister following a corruption charge was seen by analysts as Vijayan showing signs of wanting to rise to the occasion.

An offer to resign has been made by Thomas based on personal grounds and the same has been forwarded to the Chief Minister’s Office, Nalini Netto, additional chief secretary of Kerala’s home department, said to Manorama News. Mint could not immediately verify this. A call to Thomas and Netto, too, went unanswered.

In the assembly session on Monday, the main Opposition party, Congress, whose top-level leaders were booked by Thomas for corruption in the last few months, had criticized the IPS officer for having a soft corner when it comes to booking ruling party members for corruption. The Congress leaders compared him to a parrot who listens to only the chief minister and questioned his credibility pointing towards a pending a government panel’s inquiry against him on allegedly committing financial irregularities in a previous posting in Kerala.

However, responding to the allegations on the same day, Thomas had said he will not run away from the post because of criticism. “I will continue in my position as strongly as before because I did not do anything wrong,” he said, as per a New Indian Express report on Tuesday.

Thomas has had a long history as an anti-corruption crusader, which has often meant taking on people in high places. Each one of his previous postings has been newsy, despite attempts by successive governments to push him out of policing and force him to spend most part of his career in non-police departments, such as horticulture or ports.

In his new role, he is practicing “creative vigilance”, Mint reported on September 6. “Mr. Thomas said he had spent several months building police facilities. Now he was no more a builder. He was more of a demolisher who would take down corruption brick by brick,” The Hindu noted in an earlier report about him.