THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The simmering bar licence renewal issue and the politically shocking turn it took on the eve of the Kerala Formation Day in the form of grave charges of corruption against the Finance Minister and Kerala Congress supremo K M Mani, forcing Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to valiantly defend his colleague and seniormost member in the Cabinet on Saturday,is all set to change the course and destiny of the UDF Government and even the political equations, if well-scripted, in the remaining tenure of the present dispensation.
The slow-pedalling of CPM secretary Pinarayi Vijayan against Mani while the corruption charge was in the air was notable even as hopes of the latter for any political shift eying the Chief Minister’s chair have become totally untenable in the near future with the latest developments.
Biju Ramesh, working president of the Bar Owners Association, had triggered a political blast in the state by alleging that Mani had bagged Rs1 crore out of a demand for Rs 5 crore in lieu of facilitating the reopening of 418 bars lying closed since the beginning of this fiscal amid wrangling over a new liquor policy and intra-party feud in the Congress. Biju Ramesh had also claimed that he had disclosed the demand of Mani to the Chief Minister and the latter had insisted not to yield to it.
Mani denied the charge outright and suspected a conspiracy was hatched against him. As the allegations gained too much momentum and began to fly thick and fast, Chandy took over the damage control exercise and rejected claims made by the Bar Owners Association representative, who had even volunteered to undergo a polygraph to bring out the truth.
Chandy denied that Biju had met him. ‘’Biju Ramesh had not met me nor revealed anything. If indeed he did so,he should explain when and with whom,’’ an angry Chandy said.