Kerala Chief Minister to hold Finance portfolio

KM Mani, supremo of KC(M), the third largest partner in the Congress led UDF, put in his papers on Tuesday.

Thiruvananthapuram: A day after Kerala Congress (M) supremo KM Mani resigned from the cabinet over bar bribery case, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday said he would hold the Finance portfolio, held by the former.

Answering questions in this regard during cabinet briefing here, Chandy said "Mani had requested me to hold the Finance portfolio."

On the fresh charges of bribery by Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association Working President Biju Ramesh against Congress Minister K Babu, holding Excise portfolio, Chandy said "let it come. The issue (bar bribery case) is being discussed in the state for the past one year", he said.

"Government is committed to fight corruption and will not protect who ever commits corruption. But no one can demoralise the government by levelling false corruption allegations", Chandy said.

The Chief Minister said said he would take a decision on the resignation of Government Chief Whip Thomas Unniyadan, who also belongs to KC(M), after consulting with Mani.

Unniyadan, a close confidant of Mani had also tendered his resignation to express solidarity with his party chief.

Chandy maintained that there was nothing against Mani in the High Court verdict in the case. "What is there in the court order against Mani", Chandy asked.

He said "no one (in ruling UDF) asked Mani to resign. It was his own decision in the name of morality". There was no truth in the media reports that UDF partners have demanded the resignation of Mani, Chandy said.

"Mani took the decision to quit and informed the UDF", Chandy said

Earlier in the day, Chandy and some of his cabinet colleagues met Mani at his residence. The leaders termed the visit as a "courtesy call".

The 82-year old Mani, supremo of KC(M), the third largest partner in the Congress led UDF, put in his papers yesterday after some adverse remarks by Kerala High Court on the bar bribery case in which an FIR has been filed against him.

The case was filed on the basis of an allegation levelled by Biju Ramesh, Working President of Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association in October last year that Mani had demanded Rs five crore from the Association and accepted Rs one crore as bribe for renewal of licenses to over 400 bar hotels.