Bar bribe row: UDF partners close ranks with Mani

Saturday, Nov 22, 2014,19:36 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | The Congress-led UDF today pledged its total support to state Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani over the ‘bar bribe’ controversy and resolved to unitedly fight the allegation against him. A meeting of the UDF high power committee here, presided over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, adopted a resolution describing the allegation of demanding and accepting bribe, levelled by bar owners, against Mani as unfounded.
Briefing reporters on the deliberations of the meeting, UDF convener and Congress leader P P Thankachan said the coalition was of the view that a section of bar hoteliers had hurled the allegation at Mani as a revenge towards the government for sharply reducing the availability of liquor.
Kerala Bar Hotels Association working president Biju Ramesh had earlier this month alleged that Mani had been given a huge sum as bribe for favourable decisions. With the charge rattling the UDF initially, a preliminary probe by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has been ordered by the government.
Thankachan said the government would not be going in appeal against the recent High Court directive asking the government to close down the highway-side outlets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which has the monopoly in retail sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor in the state. He said the government stuck to its policy to phase out the outlets as part of its policy to free state from alcohol abuse.