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Home / News / India /  Former Kerala minister and Muslim League MLA Kunju arrested on graft charges

BENGALURU: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Wednesday arrested VK Ibrahim Kunju, Kerala's former public works minister and senior MLA from Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), on graft charges.

The politician is also one of the most visible faces of the opposition Congress-led United Development Front or UDF, of which IUML is an ally.

Kunju allegedly received kickbacks to favour a private company that constructed a flyover in Kochi in 2016. The project later raised a stink when the flyover collapsed and had to be decommissioned. He is also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for an alleged money laundering scam, linked to the flyover construction.

Girish Babu, the complainant in the money laundering case, had accused Kunju of attempting to bribe him with 5 lakh to withdraw the petition. The court later ordered the vigilance department to investigate the charge as a separate case. The MLA has denied all the charges.

Kunju was hospitalised by the time a large contingent of vigilance officers arrived at his house on Wednesday morning. His family said he was undergoing treatment at Kochi Lakeshore hospital for a drop in white blood cells. The vigilance team proceeded to record the arrest at the hospital.

Kunju is the second senior leader from IUML to be arrested in November. Earlier this month, sitting MLA MC Kamaruddin was arrested by the Crime Branch over an alleged 100 crore investment fraud in a separate case.

The arrest is bound to shake up Kerala politics just weeks before local body elections that are seen as semi-finals ahead of next year’s state assembly elections. The Opposition leaders called the arrest politically motivated, coming at a time when the ruling government is facing heat over a number of controversies, including the gold smuggling scandal and an adverse audit report by the Controller and Auditor General.

“We have no problem against an agency investigating a crime. But we will not let the Marxist party and the government use its agencies for a witch hunt against our leaders. They want to launch cases so as to shield themselves from the controversies they are surrounded with," said senior UDF leader and Congress MP Benny Behanan.

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