Kerala: Bar owners accuse FM Mani of taking Rs. 1 crore bribe
Thiruvananthapuram: The owners of Kerala Bar Association have accused state finance minister KM Mani of demanding bribe of Rs 5 crore and eventually "settling for" Rs 1 crore so that a favourable decision could be ensured in the ongoing court case. The case relates to a controversial liquor policy that seeks total prohibition in the state over the next 10 years.
On Friday, the association's working president, Biju Ramesh, had alleged that his colleagues had paid Rs 1 crore in two installments of Rs 15 lakh and Rs 85 lakh at Mani's residence for smoothing the progress of renewing the licences of hundreds of hotel bars shut down since April.
"The exact date on which we gave the money can be retrieved from our account books. We met him for the second time when the decision on liquor policy was delayed. He demanded Rs 5 crore," Ramesh claimed.
He further added that he had conveyed the issue to CM Oommen Chandy, who told him not to pay a single rupee. "We are ready to furnish proof," Ramesh said.
Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of Kerala Congress (M) PC George blamed Chandy of "instigating Ramesh to stain Mani's reputation". Mani leads the Christian-dominated party. To everyone's surprise, George claimed that cash worth Rs 1 crore was paid to another minister in the cabinet, whom he did not like to name. "I have telephonic recordings of this transaction to prove this", he added.
Ramesh reverted back saying he was ready to undergo narco-analysis test to prove he was speaking the truth. "Nine bar employees have committed suicide. We want to tell people that all this talk about prohibition is humbug. The real reason behind sabotaging our business is corruption."