Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Friday confirmed that he had received a letter from Kerala Congress(M) chief K.M Mani seeking removal of P.C George from the Chief Whip post.
"Yes, I have received a letter from Mani seeking removal of George from the post of government chief whip and barring him from attending the liaison committee meeting of UDF," Chandy told reporters here.
"A decision on Mani's demand would be taken after holding discussions with other Front leaders," he added.
Meanwhile, P.C George said he would continue as Chief Whip until the UDF takes a decision on the issue.
“I won’t bow down to any threats. It was the UDF that offered me the Chief Whip post. I will continue as Chief Whip until the UDF takes a decision on it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, George met Chandy and offered to resign from the post, but the latter asked him to wait, saying he would hold discussions with other leaders of the ruling United Democratic Front.
Talking to reporters here, George said he offered to resign but Chandy told him to wait till a decision in this regard was taken in consultation with other UDF leaders.
Meanwhile, IUML leader and state Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty met Mani and held discussions as part of arriving at a consensus on the issue.
KC(M), the third largest UDF partner, has nine MLAs and the ruling front does not want to precipitate the crisis by annoying George, particularly when civic polls are due later this year and assembly polls next year. Also, the front could not afford to lose the support of even a single MLA.
UDF has a wafer thin majority of 73 in the 140-member assembly with one seat vacant while the CPI-M led LDF has 65 members. Kerala Congress (B) which recently quit UDF has one member.
George, who was with CPI-M led LDF and headed Kerala Congress (Secular) faction, became part of UDF after his party merged with KC(M) in early 2010.
The UDF had recently lost the support of K B Ganeshkumar, the lone MLA of Kerala Congress (B) faction led by former minister R Balakrishna Pillai, after the party fell out with ruling Front on different issues.
George had caused embarrassment to UDF leaders several times with his adverse comments against the government.
But, what widened the fissure now was the repeated media statements by George against Mani, facing bribery charges in bar scam, after he presented the budget in the Assembly on March 13 amidst protests by Opposition LDF.
George had stated that Mani should have resigned when the controversy erupted last Novemeber.
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had recently registered a case against Mani in connection with the charge that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences.
Besides Mani, P J Joseph, holding Irrigation and Water Resources portfolio, is the other Minister of KC(M) in the UDF government.