Opposition walks out of Kerala assembly on opening day

Thiruvananthapuram, June 8 (IANS) The Left opposition walked out of the Kerala legislative assembly over the bar scam issue on the opening day of its budget session here on Monday.

The bar scam came to light in October 2014 when whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh revealed that state Finance Minister K.M. Mani was given Rs.one crore as bribe to open 418 closed bars.

In March this year, a magistrate was told that Rs.10 crore was paid to Excise Minister K. Babu to get the hiked annual bar licence fee reduced.

Before leading the walkout, leader of opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said the present Oommen Chandy government was the worst.

“This government stinks of corruption. Any move that this government makes, it’s a corrupt one. All the evidence is out now. The way two ministers – Mani and Babu – are engaged in corrupt deals, but no action has been taken yet. Not even a charge sheet has been filed,” said Achuthanandan.

Earlier, CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan sought leave for an adjournment motion for the government’s failure to take action against corrupt ministers.

“All evidence is now against these two corrupt ministers. A witness underwent a lie detector test and it is confirmed money was handed over to Mani. We will not raise this issue again if Mani undergoes a lie detector test. This government under Chandy knows that it will give an escape route to Mani. If not, this government will fall,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader said.

“Chandy is meddling in the case and scuttling a fair probe. The probe officer has been moved out. After so many months, a charge sheet has not been registered. Everything points to scuttling of the probe,” said Balakrishnan.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, however, said there could not be a fairer probe than the one in the bar scam, in the history of the state.

“The very fact that a probe is on against two state ministers shows the intent and transparency of this government. The probe, when completed, will come out with its findings. At no stage has there been any intervention in the probe from any quarter,” said Chennithala.

Both Mani and Babu denied any wrongdoing and said they had nothing to hide. However, the entire opposition walked out but returned a little later to continue with the rest of the listed business.

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