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Homechevron_rightKeralachevron_rightSpoken the truth, will ...

Spoken the truth, will testify before probe team: Biju Ramesh

Spoken the truth, will testify before probe team: Biju Ramesh

Kochi: Kerala bar owner Biju Ramesh has said that he is prepared to appear before probe team to give evidence on his allegation that Finance Minister K.M. Mani was bribed Rs.1 crore to ensure that 418 closed bars were allowed to reopen.

"I am not afraid because I have only spoken the truth. Tomorrow I will appear before the vigilance probe team constituted to probe this issue and give the evidence," said Ramesh to reporters here, after a meeting of 60-member executive committee of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association. The association has come out in support of Ramesh.

It was last Friday that Ramesh while participating in a live TV channel news programme said that Mani was given Rs.1 crore to ensure that the 418 bars in the state were allowed to reopen.

Following the revelation, the Left opposition has been demanding Mani's resignation.

But Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet have backed Mani and dismissed the allegation as baseless though a vigilance probe has been ordered into it.

The executive meeting of the association held Thursday was the first to be called after the issue surfaced. The association president D. Rajkumar said they are an association of 620 members (there are 730 bars in the state) and are working as a cohesive unit with no political affiliations or any factions within themselves.

"The outcome of today's (Thursday) meeting is that we have decided to fully back Ramesh and he will appear before the probe team tomorrow. We also decided to form a five-member team to look into evidence if bribe has been paid to any other minister. We are soon calling a general body meeting of our association," said Rajkumar.

The CPI state secretary Paniyan Ravindran, Thursday, said either Mani has to quit or he should be shown the door.

"We demand that a judicial probe be launched into it because the Congress-led United Democratic Front government is neck deep into corrupt deals," Ravindran told reporters in the state capital.

In a related development, the Kerala High Court Thursday refused to admit a petition filed by state AAP convenor Sara Joseph seeking a CBI probe into the allegation.

The court pointed out that there was no need to intervene in this case at the moment as the vigilance department was looking into the graft allegation.

Mani who has won each and every election since 1965 and has been a cabinet minister with both the rival fronts appears to be in trouble and all eyes are on which way the present quick verification by the vigilance goes.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala assured that the probe by the vigilance department will be done in the proper manner and it would not be an eye wash.

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