Kerala Left opposition to boycott Britain trip

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14 (IANS) The Left opposition has decided to boycott an all party delegation of Kerala legislators to Britain as it is being led by Excise Minister K. Babu, who is in the eye of a storm over an alleged bribery case.

“We were told that the delegation to Britain following an invite from the British parliament would be led by Information and Culture Minister K.C. Joseph, but now it is Babu who is leading the delegation. Since he is under a cloud, we decided that we will not go,” former Kerala minister and CPI leader C. Divakaran told reporters here on Saturday.

The delegation, scheduled to leave on November 19, comprises of two opposition legislators — CPI parliamentary party leader Divakaran and CPI-M supported independent legislator K.T. Jaleel.

It was on Tuesday (November 10), that K.M. Mani, after an adverse Kerala High Court remark on the bar bribery scam, stepped down as finance minister.

A whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh last year alleged that Mani was given a bribe of Rs.1 crore and he would see that the bars closed in the state in the wake of a new excise policy would be reopened.

The very next day, after Mani stepped down, Biju Ramesh reiterated that he personally went and gave Rs.50 lakhs to Babu at his office in the state secretariat and though the vigilance department probed it, the case was hushed up. He is going to approach the court to see that the case is probed in a proper manner.

Babu, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, however, have said that they are ready for this.

“It’s not the duty of police or the government to produce evidence, instead the onus is on those who have alleged to come out with evidence to substantiate it. Anyone is free to approach the court,” said Chandy.

The Left opposition is currently riding high after edging out the ruling Congress led-UDF (United Democratic Front) in the civic polls. With the assembly polls to be held next year, they have decided to put pressure on Babu.

“We decided not to join the delegation to Britain because it’s unfair on Babu’s part to lead the delegation,” said Jaleel.

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