Oommen Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 5 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today rejected the demand of opposition leader V S Achuthanandan for a CBI probe into the ‘bar bribe’ issue, holding that an examination by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was progressing on the matter.

A vigilance probe into the allegation against Finance Minister and Kerala Congress (M) supremo K M Mani was ordered on the basis of Achuthanandan’s letter seeking vigilance probe, Chandy said, adding, “I cannot change my stand in accordance with that of the opposition leader”.

Asserting that charges against Mani were totally false, Chandy said the controversy was with a view to cover up the achievements made by the Congress-led UDF government.

Making it clear that UDF was fully behind Mani, Chandy said UDF was united on the matter and “no one can pull off any parties from the UDF”.

Chandy said Mani was a “very tall leader of UDF” and a seasoned politician and eligible for any higher posts in the state.

Though, Achuthanandan gave a letter seeking Vigilance probe, later he changed his position and insisted for a CBI inquiry.

The row over ‘bar bribe’ started after Kerala Bar Hotels Association working president Biju Ramesh alleged that Mani had taken kickback for reopening of 418 bars closed down earlier this year for want of required facilities after the new liquor policy was announced.

The new liquor policy that envisaged total prohibition in the state in 10 years time allowed bars attached to five star hotels only.

Challenging the decision, the bar owners had moved the court and a division bench of Kerala High Court had stayed it for a month.