After claiming the scalp of state finance minister KM Mani, the Kerala bar hotels’ association accused excise minister K Babu, a confidant of chief minister Oommen Chandy, of accepting Rs 1 crore from it promising a favourable liquor policy.
Working president of the association Biju Ramesh, whose revelation led to Mani’s exit, said the excise minister also took Rs 1 crore in two installments to dilute the bar license fee hike.
He alleged the first installment of Rs 50 lakh was paid to Babu’s private secretary R Suresh in the state secretariat.
Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, who had moved the court against Mani, asked the vigilance department to verify the charges and take action against the minister.
“It seems most of the ministers are involved in corruption cases. The CM has to quit soon,” Achuthanandan said.
Chandy, however, dismissed the charges, saying those who came out with ‘frivolous charges’ should cite enough proofs to substantiate them.
Ramesh challenged the excise minister to undergo a lie-detection test to prove him wrong.
He said vigilance officials were reluctant to record his statement against Babu. “He was let off due to political interference. My charges against the minister were dismissed without any investigation,” Ramesh said.
Babu, on his part, denied all charges and said he would file a defamation case against Ramesh.
Meanwhile, the vigilance department got legal advice that it can go for an appeal against the single-bench high court verdict. Mani is also planning to move the Supreme Court. While resigning from the cabinet, Mani had called himself a victim of political conspiracy.