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Left calls for Mani to quit after bribe allegation

Left calls for Mani to quit after bribe allegation

Thiruvananthapuram: The Left parties in Kerala Sunday demanded that Finance Minister K.M. Mani step down after a bar hotel owner accused him of taking Rs.1 crore as bribe.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who did not initially react to the allegations, Sunday said that with Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala saying that the vigilance department is looking into the complaint, Mani, who heads the Kerala Congress-Mani, should resign.

"He cannot remain a minister when a probe is on so he should quit," he said.

State Communist Party of India secretary Paniyan Ravindran also asked Mani to quit.

"How can a person with these many years of experience remain as a minister, when the probe has been announced. He has no other option but to quit," he said at a press conference.

The 81-year-old Mani, who has won every election since 1965 and has been a cabinet minister with both the rival fronts, came under a cloud after bar owner Biju Ramesh made the allegation while taking part in a TV channel discussion Friday night.

While Chief Minister Oommen Chandy came to Mani's defence and said the vigilance department's looking into the charge is just a procedural formality that has been announced while Chennithala clarified that there is no vigilance probe but just a quick verification to be done.

The sudden turn of events comes at a time when Mani was nearing the winter of his long political innings and was all set to pass on the mantle to his son Jose K. Mani, the Lok Sabha member from Kottayam.

Mani, with his nine legislators, was holding sway in the Chandy government that is operating on a wafer thin majority of just five seats in the 140-member assembly. Earlier, there was speculation that Mani will rock the UDF boat and join the Left to finish his political career by becoming the chief minister.

But with this allegation and the Left opposition demanding his resignation, it has now come to a stage that more than anyone, it would be Mani who would have to see that the Chandy government has a smooth sailing for the reminder of its term, which ends in May 2016.

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