Thiruvananthapuram | CPI(M)-led LDF Opposition continued their attack on Kerala Excise Minister K Babu over bar bribery allegations in the assembly for the second day today, leading to a walkout even as government maintained that there was no evidence against him in the matter.
Taking up the issue as a submission during the Zero Hour, CPI(M) veteran and leader of Opposition V S Achuthanandan wanted the government to register an FIR based on the charges levelled by State Bar Hotel Owners Association Working President Biju Ramesh.
Babu, a Congress minister in the party-led UDF Government and also a confidant of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, has been under cloud after the hotelier levelled the bribery charges. He is the second minister facing charges of accepting bribe from bar owners for scaling down a proposed hike in bar licence fees. Earlier, Kerala Congress supremo K M Mani was forced to resign as Finance Minister in the bar case.
Lashing out at the government, Achuthanandan again brought to the notice of the House Ramesh’s charge that the association members had paid a bribe of Rs.10 crore to Babu. Achuthanandan wanted to know from the government what steps the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau took on his letter seeking a probe into the charges against Babu. He also alleged that Vigilance Director, due to political pressure, had not registered a case and protected Babu.
Defending his cabinet colleague, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala maintained that the vigilance decided not to file an FIR as it found no prima facie evidence against Babu in its preliminary probe.
The House witnessed heated exchange of words between treasury and opposition benches during the Minister’s reply.
Chennithala said he was not going into the merits of the case as the matter was now pending in the High Court, but added that there was no lapse on the part of Vigilance. Not satisfied with Chennithala’s reply, opposition members led by Achuthanandan staged a walkout. Yesterday, the opposition had disrupted the assembly proceedings demanding Babu’s resignation, resulting in the House being adjourned early.
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