Thiruvananthapuram: A day after the UDF split with the Kerala Congress-Mani quitting the alliance after being partner for 34 years, the Congress said on Monday that it was under the UDF rule that former Finance Minister K.M. Mani got a clean chit in the bar scam.
After a hurriedly convened meeting of the Congress-led United Democratic Front here on Monday, Leader of Opposition and UDF chairman Ramesh Chennithala said the reasons that Mani gave for leaving the alliance do not hold water.
"He was with us for 34 years and the Congress had always held him and his party in high esteem, and even at his time of crisis in the bar scam, it was me as Home and Vigilance Minister -- after a quick verification done by the Vigilance Department -- who gave him a clean chit on two occasions in the bar scam. We honestly do not know why he left us," said Chennithala.
"His decision came after he agreed to be with the UDF protest to be held against the state government on Wednesday," added Chennithala.
With Mani's departure, the United Democratic Front's strength in the 140-member house slid from 47 to 41.
Mani's party had been a constituent of the UDF since 1982. Even after the original Kerala Congress broke up, Mani remained with the Congress. He has been a legislator since 1967.
Mani had been cut up with a section of the Congress leadership ever since he quit as Finance Minister in 2015 over an adverse remark by the Kerala High Court in the bar scam, when Chennithala was the Home Minister.
"I do not know why he has a grouse against me, as I have been close to him since I became a cabinet colleague in 1987. I personally do not have anything against him, even though his party organ of late has been attacking me," said Chennithala, who pointed out that Mani leaving the UDF is no personal setback to him.
"We are not going to open any dialogue with him as we feel that we have done no wrong to him and moreover the reasons he gave for leaving us have no merit," said Chennithala.
Meanwhile, Mani is firm on his decision to break off from the UDF.
"Under no circumstances will there be any change in our stand that we took yesterday. From now on, we will be equi-distant from all the political fronts in the state and we will sit as a separate block in the assembly," Mani told reporters in Kottayam.