Ex-Minister Babu targets Vijayan over graft charge

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016,16:46 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | A day after he resigned as minister from Oommen Chandy cabinet over bar bribery scandal, Congress leader K Babu today targeted CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan, saying the opposition leader should withdraw from his ongoing march against corruption as he is an accused in a graft case. Noting that the SNC-Lavalin graft case in which Vijayan is an accused is pending before court, he said the CPI(M) leader has no moral right to make any statement against him and lead a campaign against corruption.
Saying that he resigned holding high moral ground after the Thrissur Vigilance Court ordered registering a case against him in the bar bribery case, Babu said, if Pinarayi believes in morality in politics, he should back off from his Nava Kerala yatra. He is an accused in the SNC-Lavalin case. The CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram had in November 2013 discharged Vijayan and six others in the graft case. Kerala government had earlier this month moved the High Court seeking urgent hearing of a revision petition filed against the CBI court verdict. The case pertains to an agreement with Canadian firm SNC Lavalin to renovate three hydro electric power projects which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 374.50 crore to the exchequer. The final agreement with the firm was signed when Vijayan was power minister in the 1990s in the LDF ministry.

Vijayan’s state-wide yatra began at Kasargod on Jan 15 raising the slogan of ‘secular, corruption free and developed Kerala’. It will culminate at Thiruvananthapuram on Feb 14. Babu, who is reportedly unhappy over the way KPCC chief V M Sudheeran dealt with his case, also justified his decision not to meet him ahead of submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Babu said he was not aware of the fact that the KPCC Chief was staying in Ernakulam Guest House where he met Chandy to submit his resignation.
There was no need to meet the KPCC President. The minister’s resignation should be given to the Chief Minister, not to the KPCC President, the former Excise Minister said.

Babu’s resignation came two months after the resignation of Kerala Congress(M) supremo K M Mani as Finance Minister following Kerala High Court making some stinging observations against him over the bar scam. The resignations have rattled the Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala just months ahead of the Assembly polls. Working President of Kerala Bar Owners Association Biju Ramesh had alleged that Babu was given Rs 10 crore as bribe for renewal of licences of liquor bars, a charge rubbished by the Congress leader.