Mani gone, Kerala Excise Minister Babu next target: Bar owner

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 12 (IANS) After the resignation of Kerala’s Finance Minister K.M. Mani in the bar bribery scam, whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh on Thursday said Excise Minister K. Babu was the next on the list to be axed for taking a bribe.

Ramesh had first made the revelation in October 2014 that Mani was paid the bribe of Rs.1 crore for his promise that the bars closed in the state in the wake of a new excise policy would be reopened.

The bar owner said Babu tgoo was bribed and he personally went to the office of Babu in the state secretariat and handed over Rs.50 lakh in cash.

Mani, who has been a legislator from Pala in Kottayam since 1967, resigned on Tuesday after the Kerala High Court said there was a need for further probe into the allegations investigated by the vigilance department.

Ramesh on Thursday said his “next target” was Babu, and alleged that the vigilance department “played foul” with his petition that Babu too also a “culprit”.

“It was me who handed over Rs.50 lakh to Babu’s office. The vigilance did not probe this charge of mine against Babu in the way it should have been done. But I am not going to sit idle, and I will take forward this case to its logical conclusion,” Ramesh told reporters on Thursday.

The report of probe vy the vigilance department into Ramesh’s allegation against Babu found its way to the media in the state capital on Thursday.

Babu and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said Ramesh has been levelling allegations for the past one year and it has now become stale and there was nothing new in it.

Ramesh on Thursday said he will now approach the state high court against the “hugely partisan” probe by the vigilance department, which gave a clean chit to Babu.

Reacting to Ramesh’s statement, CPI-M politburo member S. Ramachandran Pillai said the issue was very grave.

“This is a very serious issue and a fresh probe should be initiated,” Pillai told reporters on Thursday.


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