KOCHI: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday said the allegations against Finance Minister KM Mani that he had received Rs 1 crore as bribe from bar owners was unfortunate and not true.
However, he refused to comment on whether the government will order for a probe into the issue.
Giving a controversial twist to the bar hotel row, Kerala Bar Hotels Association (KBHA) working president Biju Ramesh had alleged on Friday that Mani had demanded Rs 5 crore as bribe for re-opening bars in the state and Rs 1 crore was already given.
"He (Biju Ramesh) said that he came and told me about this graft. Such a thing has never taken place and I wish to ask him to reveal when, where and with whom did he come and meet me," Chandy told reporters.
Chandy said each and every Keralite knows Mani very well.
"Let him (Ramesh) say more things because I always meet people openly. Since my name has been dragged into this, let him give more details. I can say with conviction that the allegations levelled against Mani are baseless and there is no need for a probe. I know this is false," said Chandy.
Mani denied the allegation, terming it as part of a conspiracy.
Mani, who heads the Kerala Congress (Mani), the third biggest ally in the Chandy government, told reporters that he is shocked why baseless allegations are being levelled against him.
He said that the bar licence issue does not come under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry.
Mani said there were attempts to ruin his reputation and derail the Congress party and added that he does not believe that the chief minister is involved in the conspiracy.
Exise minister K Babu also dismissed the allegations as baseless.
(With IANS inputs)