Thiruvananthapuram: Hundreds of activists of LDF and Yuva Morcha have converged around the state Assembly Complex in Thiruvananthapuram as part of a protest siege to check state Finance Minister K.M. Mani from presenting the budget on Friday over the bar bribery issue.
Though a high level security was placed and barricades had been set up by police in the vicinity, activists began to pour in large numbers in the area since last evening.
Tension mounted in the state capital after CPI-M-led LDF opposition warned the Congress-headed UDF government that they would go to any extent if Mr. Mani, facing allegations in the bar bribery case, would try to present the budget and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy made it clear in the Assembly that Mr. Mani himself would present the budget as he has the constitutional right for it.
Putting pressure on the ruling Front, the LDF MLAs stayed in the Assembly complex on Thursday night as part of their plans to check Mr. Mani inside the House while he comes to present the budget in the morning.
Apparently fearing the blockage and siege, Mani and some of his cabinet colleagues also stayed back inside the Assembly complex on Thursday night.
Taking up the challenge of the Opposition, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintained in the Assembly yesterday that allegations against Mr. Mani were part of a “political conspiracy” and asserted that the minister himself would present the budget.
Reacting to Mr. Chandy’s stand, CPI-M veteran and Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan said the government would have to face consequences if it let “tainted” Mani present the budget and Chandy alone would be responsible for that.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had registered a case against Mr. Mani in December last year in connection with the allegations that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences.
The allegations were levelled by Kerala state Bar Hotel Owner’s Association Working president Biju Ramesh.