Thiruvananthapuram, November 21 : The CPI(M)-led LDF government on Saturday gave the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau (VACB) the nod to open a preliminary probe against opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, and former ministers K Babu and V S Sivakumar in connection with the bar bribery scam.
The state government explained that the probe was necessitated by the latest revelations made by bar hotelier Biju Ramesh that bar hotel owners had pooled 10 crore rupees and given kickbacks to ministers in the previous UDF government to renew bar licences.
However, the congress-led opposition UDF dubbed the move as political vendetta. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala asserted that he would not be cowed down by such trumped up charges.
Chennithala argued that probe agencies had looked into the bribery charge levelled against him by Biju Ramesh and the probe report giving him a clean chit submitted before the court.
Calling the VACB probe as political vendetta, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said that the opposition would unitedly fight the politically motivated case against its leaders. The opposition would not be silenced by such moves, he added.
He also called on the state government to probe Biju Ramesh’s recent charge that Kerala congress (M) leader Jose K Mani had offered him 10 crore rupees to withdraw the graft allegations the bar hotelier had made against KC(M) patriarch K M Mani.
The fact that the VACB probe comes at a time when the LDF government is reeling under a slew of controversies such as the UAE-consulate linked gold smuggling scam and the life mission scam is likely to lend credence to the opposition charge that the vigilance probe is politically motivated.
The state government would also have a tough time justifying the decision to leave out Biju Ramesh’s allegations against Jose K Mani from the ambit of the probe.
Mr. Mani’s KC(M) had recently joined the LDF after quitting the congress-led UDF.