Kerala: Congress in favour of removing KC-B from UDF

 The Congress leading the ruling UDF in Kerala on Wednesday virtually favoured expelling minor partner Kerala Congress (B), headed by R Balakrishna Pillai, from the coalition in the wake of his charges against Finance Minister KM Mani in the bar bribe scam.

PTI| Updated: Jan 21, 2015, 13:38 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress leading the ruling UDF in Kerala on Wednesday virtually favoured expelling minor partner Kerala Congress (B), headed by R Balakrishna Pillai, from the coalition in the wake of his charges against Finance Minister KM Mani in the bar bribe scam.

"Statements against the Front leaders by remaining in the Front has created crisis in the coalition," senior congress leader and KPCC spokesman M M Hassan told reporters here.

Referring to Pillai's statement that he would only be happy if removed from the Front, Hassan said, "In the circumstances, the UDF should take steps to free him from the emotional clutches he has with the Front."

Pillai had also said it was "emotionally difficult" for him to quit UDF as he had played a vital role in forming it.

"Kerala should not lose a chance to get a new leader to fight corruption," Hassan said, apparently referring to Pillai's conviction and sentence of one year imprisonment in a corruption case in 2011.

A decision on KC-B would be taken in the UDF liaison committee meeting scheduled to be held here on January 28, Hassan added.

Demand for Pillai's ouster from UDF got momentum after a controversial telephone conversation between Pillai and a hotelier Biju Ramesh became public.

The bar bribe scam, which pertains to graft allegation against Mani, levelled by a leading hotelier took a new twist with TV channels airing telephone tapes in which Pillai allegedly asked Biju Ramesh to go ahead with his graft charge against Mani. Pillai was also heard making new corruption charges against Mani during the conversion.

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. Based on the allegation, government initially ordered a "quick verification' and later lodged an FIR 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.

KC (B) has no presence in the ministry after its lone legislator K B Ganesh Kumar was forced to quit after facing allegations of domestic rift in 2013. It is not likely to get support from other partners.

KC-M has already demanded its ouster and IUML is also not happy with it after Kumar levelled corruption charges in the assembly against three staff members in the PWD Ministry headed by IUML's E K Ebrahimkunju.