Thiruvananthapuram: The Left Front on Friday demanded arrest of Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani after the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) filed a case against him over allegations that the state bar association gave him a Rs.1 crore bribe to reopen the closed bars.
The case has reverberated in the state assembly since the day's session started. The Left Front lawmakers arrived with placards and banners demanding that Mani quits. The speaker called off the question hour.
On resumption, Communist Party of India-Marxist) (CPI-M) legislator Suresh Kurup sought leave of the house to table an adjournment motion on the issue.
"Never before a minister in Kerala has landed in such a situation with the VACB already registering a case. He should be arrested. Now you say the probe will go on. How is this possible when he remains a minister? A junior officer will be conducting the probe. Will any truth come out?" Kurup asked.
"Two senior government officials were suspended earlier this month after the VACB registered cases against them. Here you see a minister going scot free. This sort of treatment is not correct," said Kurup.
The case was filed against Mani after verification of the allegation that the bar hotel owners association gave him a bribe. Nine witnesses gave evidence that Mani received the bribe money.
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said what happened Thursday was a mere procedural action.
"The VACB never said that Mani has committed a crime. The probe is going to begin as what has happened was a quick verification. It has not gone into the merit of the case. An FIR was registered, that does not mean that Mani is guilty. If ministers will resign for this, then there won't be a single minister in the country who will be able to hold office," said Chennithala.
"Achuthanandan (Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan) first demanded a vigilance probe and we went ahead with it. The next day, he changed his stand and sought a CBI probe because he said only then it would be a fair probe. Now are you satisfied? No one is going to resign. There is no need for such thing," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
Achuthanandan said, "It is a shame that Mani is still a minister."