UDF, LDF face to face on bar issue: Anxiety mounts on budget day
Confrontation between ruling UDF and LDF Opposition is on the cards in Kerala Assembly on budget day on friday over the bar bribery issue, with the government asserting that budget will be presented as scheduled by Finance Minister K M Mani.
Thiruvananthapuram: Confrontation between ruling UDF and LDF Opposition is on the cards in Kerala Assembly on budget day on friday over the bar bribery issue, with the government asserting that budget will be presented as scheduled by Finance Minister K M Mani.
With the LDF making it clear that all roads leading to the Assemmbly would be blocked, the office of the Finance Minister, when contacted, said Mani might stay in the Assembly complex itself as "priority before the minister is to present the budget tomorrow".
Besides Mani, some other ministers in the cabinet would also stay back in the Assembly complex to evade the blockade of protesters, Congress sources said.
In a tactical move, the CPI(M)led LDF members also decided to stay inside the Assembly as part of their stir even after it was adjourned for the day after a commotion in the afternoon, making the political situation more tensed.
As a result, security in and outside the Assembly complex has been tightened with deployment of more police forces.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the government would face the stir sternly if it turns violent.
LDF claimed that thousands of volunteers would take part in the "protest resistance" to be staged outside the Assembly complex.
Aggravating the situation, BJP's youth wing Yuva Morcha has also announced plans to stage dharna before the Assembly.
Earlier in the day, taking up the challenge of the Opposition, Chief Minister Ommen Chandy maintained that allegations against Mani was part of a "political conspiracy" and asserted that the minister himself would present the budget.
Reacting to Chandy's stand, CPI(M) veteran and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the government would have to face consequences if it let "tainted" Mani present the budget and Chandy alone would be responsible for that.
Intervening in the debate, 82-year-old Mani trashed the opposition charges and said his 50-year-long public life was transparent.
"All these allegations are baseless and purposefully aimed to tarnish my image," an emotional Mani said.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had registered a case against Mani in December last year in connection with the allegations that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences.
The allegations were levelled by Kerala state Bar Hotel Owner's Association Working President Biju Ramesh.