UDF seeks probe into bar bribery

Demands resignation of tourism minister P A Mohammed Riyas; Kerala Oppn to hold protest
Opposition leader VD Satheesan
Opposition leader VD Satheesan (File Photo | Express)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The UDF leadership has upped its ante against the LDF government on the second bar bribery row by demanding a judicial probe. A day after Opposition leader V D Satheesan had demanded the resignation of excise minister M B Rajesh, the UDF leadership had sought the resignation of tourism minister P A Mohammed Riyas too. The Opposition has also decided to hold protests within and outside the Legislative Assembly in the coming days.

With the state government deciding to go for a crime branch probe into an audio clip where bar owners were purportedly asked to pay Rs 2.50 lakh each for favourable liquor policies, the UDF leadership which was huddled here at Opposition Leader’s official residence at Cantonment House came up with a two-prong demand - judicial probe and resignation of two ministers.

Casting serious aspersions against the Chief Minister, UDF convener M M Hassan maintained that the bar association would not have resorted to collect funds towards the bribery without the knowledge of Pinarayi Vijayan. While demanding the resignation of excise and tourism ministers, Hassan recalled that Rajesh had given a complaint on Friday so as to save Mohammed Riyas. “The crime branch probe announced by the LDF government is inadequate as it will not bring out the actual truth behind it. The move by the excise minister to lodge a complaint directly shows that a move is on to save his colleague, Mohammed Riyas. Only a judicial probe will bring out the truth behind the second bar bribery row”, said Hassan after the UDF meeting.

Mohammed Riyas- Minister of public works department and Tourism
Mohammed Riyas- Minister of public works department and TourismPhoto | Express

It’s reliably learned that while the UDF allies will separately hold protests outside the Legislative Assembly, they will protest united inside the Assembly once the session starts on June 10.

He also demanded that both the tainted ministers should step down and then face the probe. Later, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan took to his Facebook post with a similar demand that apart from the excise minister, the tourism minister has also come under a cloud of smoke. Satheesan came out with a previous Facebook post penned by Pinarayi during 2016 where he had asked Oommen Chandy on granting bar licenses whether it was for prohibition or not.

Pinarayi who was then serving as the CPM secretary had come out against Oommen Chandy led UDF government prior to the Assembly election citing that the liquor policy was nothing but farce. He had then maintained that it was a ploy of the UDF government to garner more votes.

UDF meeting is ongoing at Cantonment House where the major agenda is on the second bar bribery row. Congress state president K Sudhakaran is conspicuous by his absence in the UDF meeting which will also be taking up a call on the bill on delimitation.

Apart from the UDF allies, Congress state president K Sudhakaran also attended the UDF meeting. Earlier, there were speculation that Sudhakaran may not attend the UDF meeting due to difference of opinion with the Opposition Leader

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