Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Kerala’s Finance Minister K.M. Mani on Tuesday resigned over his alleged involvement in the bar scam in the state, following hectic political parleys all day long in the state capital.
Addressing reporters at his official residence, the 82-year-old Mani — who is also the country’s longest serving legislator — said that being the state’s law minister, “I have to respect the law and hence I have resigned”.
“I have already informed the chief minister (Oommen Chandy) of my decision to resign. Through a special messenger, I will send my resignation to the CM,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to thank the CM and all other leaders who extended support to me.”
“We also wish to state that we will continue to support the United Democratic Front government,” said Mani.
The case began in October last year when bar owner Biju Ramesh said Mani was given Rs.1 crore as bribe by Kerala’s bar owners to see that the 418 closed bars are reopened.
Following a letter by Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan to the vigilance director, the Kerala government ordered a vigilance probe against Mani.
Following a quick verification, a case was registered naming Mani as the accused.
After seven months of investigation, the vigilance department found there was not enough evidence against Mani and they had filed a closure report in the vigilance court that last month quashed the clean chit. It ordered a further probe which was upheld on Monday by the high court.
Earlier on Tuesday in New Delhi, the Congress had ruled out the possibility of immediate removal of Mani in the wake of corruption charges against him.
Mani had earlier refused to resign after the Kerala High Court directed that further probe should be conducted into bribery allegations against him.
“There are two sections of opinion in Kerala. In fact, there are many sections of opinion in Kerala which cut across Congress party, allies and the coalition,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
“Everybody has to hold their horses for a few days and there is no reason for apprehension because there has never been any allegation that the government of Kerala has not respected the court process. There is no verdict – where is the verdict. Observations are not verdict. This will be unfair to the rights of the accused,” he said.
“These judicial proceedings were earlier closed and now restarted. So, it is a very clear subjudice matter.
“Certainly, the government of Kerala and all other stakeholders are obliged to respect the court proceedings. Let the proceedings take its course and let everybody abide by it.
“The person concerned will have his rights there. The government will have its say but when the High Court of Kerala is seized of the matter, let us wait and watch for a while,” he added.
Mani had threatened to withdraw support from the Congress-led UDF government with his nine MLAs if forced to resign.
He heads the Kerala Congress (M), the third largest partner in the ruling coalition.