Kerala bar scam: Left, Congress want Mani out

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 10 (IANS) Hectic parleys were on in Kerala on Tuesday after the demand for Finance Minister K.M. Mani’s resignation over the bar scam grew stronger and both Left and the Congress want the minister out.

The Left opposition as well as the allies of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, including the Congress, want Mani to quit.

On Monday, the Kerala High Court upheld the Special Vigilance Court’s direction asking for a further probe in the bar scam case in which Mani is alleged to have taken a bribe for opening closed down bars from rich bar owners.

Four legislators considered close to Mani and another three legislators who support State Irrigation Minister P.J.Joseph are divided over the issue.

State government’s Chief Whip and an close aide of Mani, Thomas Unniyadan, told reporters here on Tuesday that the court order has not indicted Mani.

“The court order has asked for a further probe and that we accept it. But nowhere in the judgement it indicts Mani of being an accused. We have gone through the entire judgement…,” said Unniyadan.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy held meetings with top leaders of his party and also of other allies.

Later, leaders of the Indian Union Muslim League, state Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty declined to comment on the meeting.

“I have nothing to give you at the moment as the chief minister is meeting individually with all the allies. We will come back again when the UDF leaders meet again later in the day,” said Kunhalikutty.

Sources close to Mani told IANS that Mani is adamant that if he is forced to resign, then he will go ahead by asking the four legislators close to him to quit. This might jeopardise the Chandy government.

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