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'Bar bribe': Hotelier retracts claim of meeting K M Mani

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Bar bribe: Hotelier retracts claim of meeting K M Mani
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Thiruvananthapuram: In a development that appeared to indicate fizzling out of the 'bar bribe' controversy haunting UDF Government in the State, a hotelier who had earlier levelled graft charges against Finance Minister K M Mani Friday retracted his claim.

A day after the Kerala Bar Owners Association resolved to stand by its allegation, Manoharan, a hotelier from Aroor in Alppuzha District, changed his earlier stand and said he had never met Mani in connection with the bar licence issue.

Significantly, Manoharan's change of tack came as the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) began its probe into the issue by recording the statement of Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association Working President Biju Ramesh, who first levelled charges of corruption against Mani.

"I have disclosed everything to the (investigating) team," Ramsesh told reporters after recording his statement with the investigators.

Putting up a brave face, Excise Minister K Babu and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala dared the bar owners to come out with evidences to establish their charge.

"The Association should reveal the names of politicians and ministers to whom money had been allegedly paid and how much money was given. Without revealing the names, they are trying to create a smokescreen," Babu told reporters in Kochi.

"If by raising such allegations, the bar owners feel they are challenging the government, it would be met by the government," he said.

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