Thiruvananthapuram | The CPI-M-led LDF Opposition today staged a walkout in the Assembly demanding resignation of State Finance Minister K M Mani over the bar bribery issue and alleged that the government was trying to sabotage the case against him. Replying to an adjournment motion on the bar bribery issue sought to be moved by the opposition, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala rejected the allegations and said investigation in the case was progressing in a ‘judicious and impartial’ way.
Referring to the opposition stand that Mani should not present the budget on March 13, Chennithala asserted that Mani would present the budget. Maintaining that government had nothing to hide on the matter, he said, On completion of probe, the report would be submitted to the court.
A visibly upset Mani stood up and said he was rejecting the opposition’s allegations. Mani also said he would file a defamation case against the Bar owner, who levelled bribery charges against him. Seeking notice for the motion, S Sarma (CPI-M), quoting from the FIR filed against Mani in the case, said prima facie it was made out that Mani had sought and accepted bribe from Kerala Bar Hotel Owner’s Association representatives.
Mani has no moral and democratic right to continue in office, he said. Sarma alleged that a political conspiracy was underway to protect Mani, who is the supremo of Kerala Congress (M), the third largest partner in UDF and that any action against Mani would destabilise the UDF ministry. Lambasting Mani on the issue, Achuthanandan said Mani’s continuation as a minister was a shame on entire Kerala.
After Chennithala’s reply, Deputy Speaker N Sakthan, who was in the Chair, disallowed leave for the motion, which stated that attempts were on to weaken the case against Mani by wooing the Bar Owner who levelled the allegations.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had registered a case against Mani in December last in connection with the allegation that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences. The allegations were levelled by Bar Hotel Owner’s Association Working President Biju Ramesh.