Pala | Amid opposition parties demanding his resignation after a Special Vigilance court ordered further probe into the bar bribery case, Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani today put up a brave face and said he would follow the convention set by his predecessors who faced similar situation in the past.
Reacting to the verdict, Mani, who is at his hometown here, claimed innocence and said, Let the case be probed 101 times before concluding it beyond any doubt. I welcome the vigilance court order for a further probe into the case, he said. This is not a final verdict. Further probe does not mean that I am guilty, Mani said, adding, nothing new would emerge out of the investigations.
The 82-year-old supremo of Kerala Congress (M), third largest partner in the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), said he did not consider the vigilance court verdict as a setback. Similar investigations were conducted in the past against then ministers and chief ministers. Some kind of conventions were adopted in such situations.
That is applicable to me also, he said when asked whether he would tender his resignation in view of the court order. I embrace truth. I don’t want to say anything on Court’s observations, said Mani, who is also the present chairman of Goods and Services Tax Empowered Committee.
In a blow to ruling UDF in the state ahead of next week’s civic polls, the special Vigilance Court today ordered further probe into the bar bribery case against Mani, rejecting the investigating agency’s final report seeking closure of the case.
Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge John K Illekadan declined to accept the final investigation report by Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau which had exonerated Mani stating there was no evidence to charge sheet him. Meanwhile, BJP state President V Muraleedharan said not only Mani, but also Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who allegedly persuaded Vigilance to prepare a report favouring the Finance Minister, have no moral right to continue in their posts after the court’s order.
Talking to reporters in Kottayam, the BJP leader demanded a CBI probe into the case.
Slamming the UDF, CPI-M led LDF Opposition renewed their demand for Mani’s resignation in the wake of the verdict.CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan said, Mani should not remain in power even for a day.
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