The Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau would probe into the allegation that finance minister K M Mani had taken bribe from bar hotel owners to renew liquor licence, said Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.
The Home Minister told the media in Thrissur on Sunday that a prima facie probe would be held in the allegation based on the complaint of Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan. However, whether a case should be registered against Mani would be taken only after the preliminary probe, said Chennithala.
On Saturday, Achuthanandan had written to the Home Minister seeking Vigilance probe into the allegation that Mani took bribe from bar hotel owners. `The government give due respect for the letter from the Opposition leader. There is no politics in the decision. The government is sticking to the legal route only, said Chennithala.
Bar hotel owner Biju Ramesh had threatened to move the high court seeking CBI probe if the state government did not probe into the matter. Although Mani refuted the allegation, several other bar hotel owners have came out with the disclosure that they had handed over money to association leaders for paying to the political leaders to get the licence renewed. However, they have not revealed to whom they had paid the money. It is not a secrete that the bar hotel owners pay money to all leading political parties in Kerala to clear the licence issues.
Kerala Congress leader and government chief whip P C George had also alleged that the bar hotel owners had collected Rs 15 crore for addressing the issue of licence renewal.
On Sunday, Achuthanandan raised the bar in the issue, saying that CBI should probe into the issue. Many members in the Chandy’s cabinet had taken bribe for bar hotel owners. Hence, a CBI probe is required to bring out the truth, said the Opposition leader.
The Congress government move to go for a token probe by state police’s vigilance wing is a strategy to prevent the issue going into legal battle. If someone public interest litigation comes up in the court seeking CBI probe, the government can take the stand a vigilance probe is already on. The government can at least save the situation in that manner and contain a crisis from emerging.