Thiruvananthapuram: The bar bribery row involving Finance Minister KM Mani found its echo in the state Assembly today on the first day of the Winter session with CPI-M led LDF staging a walkout demanding his resignation even as the Kerala Congress (M) chief rejected the charges as "baseless".
The House also witnessed protests on a few occasions when some LDF members moved towards the well of the House with a banner demanding Mani's resignation during zero hour when CPI-M Deputy leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan raised the matter through a notice for an adjournment motion.
Balakrishnan charged the Congress-led UDF government with protecting Mani by deliberately delaying the preliminary quick examination by Vigilance on the bribery charges made by a bar owner.
Challenging the government on the issue, Balakrishnan said he has a compact disc containing evidence to support the bar scam and he was ready to place it on the table of the House.
The LDF wanted government to register an FIR and case against Mani under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act as enough evidence on the bribery has come out and remove him from the Ministry if he did not quit on his own, he said.
Rejecting the charges, Mani said LDF was raising the corruption charge on hearsay and it was absolutely baseless.
"Neither I nor my party have received any money from Bar owners and the charges are baseless," Mani said, adding, there was a conspiracy behind the allegation.
Making it clear that there was no move on the part of the government to shield any persons, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the probe in the case was progressing as per Supreme Court guidelines and Vigilance manuals.
The final preliminary probe report would be submitted in the High Court tomorrow,he said.
On Balakrishnan's claim on compact disc, Chennithala said he has to give it to the probe team and they would examine it.
Holding that the investigation was transparent, he said it was being examined by the High Court as the Vigilance department had already submitted an initial report in this regard.
Chennithala also asserted that the government did not interfere in the probe by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau which, he said, was not a "caged parrot."
Dissatisfied with the government's response to their demand and rejection of the adjournment motion, LDF members led by Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan trooped out.