Kochi: With the 'Bar bribe' issue becoming murkier following allegations by Kerala Bar Owners Association that Rs 20 crore was collectively paid to various leaders during last four years, state Excise Minister K Babu on Friday said names of politicians and ministers to whom bribes had been allegedly paid, should be revealed.
"The Association should reveal the names of those politicians and ministers to all money had been paid and how much was given. Without revealing the names, they are trying to create a smoke screen," Babu told reporters here.
"If by raising such allegations, the bar owners feel they are challenging the government, it would be strongly faced," the minister said.
The association members had at their executive meeting here yesterday stated at a closed door meeting that Rs 20 crore had been collected and given to various leaders in the last four years. A Malayalam television channel had carried out a sting operation in this regard.
When it was pointed out that government had not yet launched any probe against the allegations made by Association working president, Biju Ramesh against Finance Minister K M Mani, he said government was not running away from any probe. "Vigilance and Anti-Corruption bureau is conducting enquiry on the same."
The ruling United Democratic Front will face the issue united, he said. However, that was not the case with the LDF, he said, apparently referring to the differences within the constituents on the probe to be ordered into the allegations.
Government had brought out its new liquor policy with 'good intentions', he said, adding, it was unfortunate that the media was giving so much importance to the various allegations being raised by the bar association.
"Our policy is bars should close. Our aim is to reduce the availability of liquor and as part of which we have increased tax on liquor, though prices have not been hiked," he said, adding, the working hours of bars had also been reduced by three hours.
Asked if donations were taken from bar owners, he said during elections, all parties get donations.