THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has sought a probe into the allegation that Finance Minister K M Mani had taken bribe from a bar owner to facilitate the reopening of bars. Pinarayi told a press meet here on Saturday that there was no surprise in the allegation as ever since the government started plans to close down the bars, there had been talks of bribe changing hands in the corridors of power.
“Earlier there were allegations that Rs 15 crore had changed hands. But later on the amount of bribe had grown many fold according to rumours,” he said.
Pinarayi said that the rumour mills were working overtime ever since the government decided to close down bars. It was rumoured that first the government would close down all bars and later it would allow some relaxation and finally a situation would be made to reopen all closed bars after taking bribes, he said.
Pinarayi said that now one part of the rumour had been proven true. There are Ministers having direct involvement in the bar and abkari business, either through share participation or directly owning bars, he said.
Pinarayi said that the person who claimed to have given the bribe was a bar hotel owner and rich enough to pay an amount of Rs 1 crore. It can be Biju Ramesh’s money or money collected from other bar owners.
The CPM leader said that one cannot neglect the politics also behind the allegation.
“Kerala Congress(M) had a strained relation with the Congress party. The KC(M) has a view that since Mani is a senior leader in the UDF, he also has a right to become Chief Minister for a short period. The allegation of corruption against Mani has to be seen in this perspective also,” he said.
He also said that the immediate beneficiary in this situation was Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Against this backdrop the CPM was seeking a comprehensive probe. He said that he would comment on the nature of probe and the investigation agency after detailed discussion with party colleagues later. There has been allegations against the Chief Minister and the Excise Minister.
All such allegations have to be probed, he said. Asked whether the CPM had a soft-corner for Mani, he said the CPM had the same approach to Mani and the UDF.