Thiruvananthapuram: The coming days will be crucial not only for Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani but also for the Chandy government as the vigilance department is expected to submit its report soon in the bars bribery case in which Mani is an accused.
Sources say that the investigating officer has finalised his report and will soon submit it to the legal adviser concerned for review.
The probe team has collected enough evidences against Mani in the case. The records include the result of the polygraph test performed on Ambili, telephone calls details of Rajkumar Unni, books of accounts of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association (KBHA) and minutes of its meetings.
If Mani, the longest serving legislator, is exonerated, it could well be another round of protests and a statement war from the Left opposition.
But if he is found guilty, then it could well be curtains for Mani and he will have to quit. If he does that, the Chandy government would become shaky.
In the 140-member Kerala assembly the Chandy government has the support of 73 legislators, including nine from the party that Mani heads. The Left opposition has 65 MLAs, while one seat is vacant. K.B. Ganesh Kumar whose party was with the Chandy alliance has now broken away and is waiting entry into the Left opposition.
Mani's party colleague, P.C. George, who was stripped of his government chief whip post by the former for his frequent outbursts said he has doubts if the vigilance department will submit its report to the court.
In October last year bar owner Biju Ramesh went live on a TV channel and claimed that Mani was given Rs. one crore as bribe to ensure that the closed bars will be opened.
The Left opposition was quick to latch on. Following a demand by former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, the Kerala government handed over the case to the vigilance department.
As part of the probe, the vigilance department recorded the statements of Mani, his staff members, senior political leaders, bar owners, Ramesh and his driver.
Mani, 82, has won every assembly election he has contested since 1965 and has presented 13 state budgets, both of which are national records.
Mani appeared cheerful on Wednesday. “Let the probe get over and let the report come,” he said.