Former Kerala minister says house raid ‘political vendetta’

Kochi, Sep 3 (IANS) Former Excise Minister K. Babu, whose house was raided by the Kerala Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau on Saturday, said this was “political vendetta”.

I was totally surprised to know about the charges registered against me regarding my assets, the senior Congress leader told the media after the nearly eight-hour raid ended.

“This is a political vendetta. I am a person who files income tax and have declared all my assets. If there is anything which they find that I have not listed, it can be taken by the government. I will initiate legal steps against it,” Babu said.

Simultaneous raids were also carried out at the houses of two of his close aides in Ernakulam district and also at his two married daughters’ houses.

“The FIR against me mentions that I had benami deals with two people whose homes were raided. I have nothing to do with them,” said Babu who lost his Tripunithura assembly seat for the first time in the May assembly polls.

Babu represented Tripunithura constituency for the past 25 years.

The raid that began at 7 a. m. on Saturday morning, ended after noon. At least Rs 8 lakh cash was seized which included Rs 1.5 lakh from Babu’s house and 6.5 lakh from the residence of a businessman.

Babu is the second minister after former Finance Minister K. M. Mani from the former Oommen Chandy cabinet to face a vigilance probe.

In the first 100 days of his government, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has made it clear he means to weed out corruption from the state.

Babu had come under severe pressure as the Excise Minister after Biju Ramesh, a bar owner, alleged that he bribed the minister at his office.

Talking to the media in Delhi, Vijayan said his permission was not needed to raid Babu’s house.

“May be the officials did it because that was the next thing to be done in the probe. We will not do anything vindictive in nature, but the law will take its course,” said the Chief Minister.

Jacob Thomas, the Director General of Police who also heads the vigilance bureau, worked under Babu as Ports Director.

Thomas said that his priority was to end corruption and things were going in the proper way.

The raid was based on an FIR filed in a vigilance court in Ernakulam district saying that Babu had accumulated wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Reiterating his claims, Ramesh said: “The truth will come out as everyone knows what has happened. A lot had happened during Babu’s term as the minister.”

Both Babu and Mani have been under the spotlight after the bar scandal broke in October 2014.

After the vigilance officers questioned him last week, Mani accused Thomas of carrying out a personal vendetta against him as the former minister had ordered an inspection into the DGP’s department during his term.

Thomas was shunted out of vigilance under Chandy’s rule.

Meanwhile, Chandy said that any probe was welcome, but if nothing came out of the witch hunts then the state government should take action against “such” officials.

Former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who handled vigilance earlier, said such actions could not take place without the concurrence of the ruling leadership.

According to sources, a few more colleagues of Chandy could soon be subjected to similar probes.

–IANS

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