UDF ministry in trouble again over Bar Bribe in Kerala

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 Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani Photo: VV Biju
Kerala Finance Minister KM Mani Photo: VV Biju

More drama to unfold in Kerala politics in the coming days with Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (Mani) chairman K M Mani looks adamant on his decision not to quit even if Vigilance charge sheets him in the bar bribe case. The already strained relationship of Congress and KC(M) has further worsened with Mani blaming the home department and VACB (Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau) allegedly leaking out the report of lie detector test conducted on a key witness in the bar bribe case last day.
It was on Sunday that the media carried reports of the polygraph test conducted on bar owner Biju Ramesh’s driver Ambili. The report said that the test proved that driver’s statement that Mani had taken money from the bar owner is right. This has seriously cast shadow over Mani and a possibility of Vigilance nailing him grew larger. This has infuriated the KC (M) leadership, and the party general secretary Joseph M Puthussery said in a statement blamed a concerted move to tarnish the image of Mani and KC (M). He said that under the procedural formalities being followed, the report of the test was handed over to court in a sealed envelope. A copy of it has been given to investigating officer. Puthussery wanted an investigation into how the ‘secure’ information was got leaked to media.
K M Mani too is not happy with the recent developments in the bar bribe case. He blamed home department for leaking the progress report of the case to media and delay in the investigation. He said that the leaking of the report is of serious nature and an investigation should be ordered into it to bring out the real culprits.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala sensing the situation bad, wasted no time in announcing a probe into the incident. He entrusted Additional Chief Secretary Nalini Netto to probe the incident. Chennithala also rubbished the accusation and said that his department is not aware of the leakage and is clueless over the polygraph test.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has given his assurance to Mani to take action against those involved in the leakage. It is also said that he had asked his favourites not to raise the demand of Mani’s resignation within the UDF. Even though, ‘I’ group of the Congress is secretly faring war against Mani and his resignation is giving big head ache to Chandy. It is learnt that the Muslim League’s, another ally in UDF, decision in the incident will be crucial in the incident.
Opposition leader V S Achuthananandan and CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan demanded for the removal of K M Mani from the Chandy ministry. “Since the tainted minister was not ready to quit his position, Chandy should throw him out” said V S in a statement. Kodiyeri said that an LDF meeting will be convened on May 31 to decide on stepping up protest against the government if Mani fails to resign on his own by then.  However, the fate of the UDF government, which turned four a few days ago, is solely depends upon Mani, and a decision from him would determine the further course of the government.