Thiruvanathapuram: As the bar bribe scam charges against K M Mani continue to haunt the UDF government, the Kerala Congress (M) supremo and state Finance Minister on Saturday scoffed at speculations that his resignation was imminent and that his party was being torn asunder by a succession struggle.
"I am rejecting with contempt the reports in this regard...I don't want to respond to things said by somebody sitting at some places," he told reporters here.
A visibly ruffled Mani said "no evidence has come out on the scam even after 85 days have passed after it broke.'
"There is no need to debate matters on the basis of hearsay," 81-year-old veteran of Kerala politics asserted after local media went agog with speculations that Kerala Congress (M) has run into serious internal turmoil over the issue of his successor in the event of his resignation.
Adding fuel to the speculations, KC (M) leader and Government Chief Whip P C George had said that there were senior leaders in the party in the event of Mani's resignation, seen as a indication that he would oppose the move to elevate Jose K Mani.
However, George said the present circumstances did not warrant Mani's resignation.
As part of their agitation against Mani, LDF had decided to boycott Mani while BJP had called for a state-wide hartal on January 27 demanding his resignation.
The bar bribe scam, which pertains to graft allegation against Mani, levelled by the hotelier, took a new twist with TV channels airing telephone tapes of purported conversation between Pillai and Ramesh. Pillai was also heard making new corruption charges against Mani during the conversation.
In November last, Ramesh had alleged that Mani had been given a hefty sum on the promise that he would help in reopening some closed liquor bars. An FIR has been lodged in the matter for a detailed probe.
Mani, who handles Finance and Law and supremo of key UDF constituent Kerala Congress (M), had rubbished the charge, asserting Ramesh had no credibility as he had been making contradictory statements on the issue.
Rallying behind Mani, Chief Minister Ommen Chandy has said his government had full confidence in the Finance Minister and maintained he (Mani) would present the budget this year too.
Meanwhile, KC-M General Secretary Joy Abraham, MP, said the party did not agree with George's statement on Mani's resignation and about his successor.
It was the collective responsibility of the party leaders to check the "deliberate" move by certain vested interest to tarnish the image of the party supremo and weaken it, Abraham said in a statement here.
Meanwhile, Jose K Mani said there was no significance to the debate over resignation of Mani, particularly when allegations against him were baseless.
The media was debating on an issue which the party had not even thought of, he said adding it was unfortunate to drag his name unnecessarily into the issue.