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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightArticlechevron_rightBargate has Indias...

Bargate has India's longest-serving legislator in tatters

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Bargate has Indias longest-serving legislator in tatters
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Thiruvananthapuram: Finance Minister K.M. Mani is possibly India's longest-serving legislator having won every election to the Assembly since 1965. But things turned sour for the 81-year-old minister after a corruption case was filed against him for allegedly receiving a Rs.1 crore bribe to reopen the closed bars in the state.

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau recently filed a case at a special vigilance court against Mani over allegations that the state bar association gave him a Rs.1 crore bribe to reopen the closed bars.

Whistleblower bar owner Biju Ramesh had said in October that Rs.1 crore was given to Mani as the first instalment of the Rs.5 crore he demanded.

Opposition leaders alleged that Mani was given Rs.1 crore in three instalments - Rs.15 lakh, Rs.35 lakh and Rs.50 lakh.

Mani is the leader of the nine-legislator Kerala Congress (Mani) and also the third biggest ally of the Congress-led government.

Things could now become tough for Mani, who over the last five decades has successfully managed every difficult situation he has come across in state politics.

After the 'bargate' scam first surfaced, the otherwise smart Mani's public appearances have dwindled.

And now, after the Left opposition onslaught began, he is rarely seen in public.

To make matters more tough for him, vigilance sleuths have decided to interrogate Mani's close aides to check if the Rs.1 crore bribe amount reached their hands.

The Kerala assembly session that began earlier this month has seen enough ruckus over the issue.

The only saving grace for Mani has been that the entire Oommen Chandy government has been solidly backing him.

Mani's future now depends on the Left opposition on whether it would toughen its stand against the minister and not budge till he quits.

If that happens, it would be the worst blot on Mani's long political career.

A section of leaders in Mani's party have indicated that the nine-member legislature party should support the Chandy government from outside, by withdrawing Mani's party colleague P.J. Joseph from the cabinet and government chief whip P.C. George.

In the 140-member Kerala assembly, the United Democratic Front has 75 legislators while the Left opposition has 65.

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