Biju Ramesh, a whistle blower bar owner whose revelation in 2015 rocked the Oommen Chandy government and saw the resignation of the then Finance Minister K.M. Mani, slammed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday. Ramesh alleged that the Vijayan government was backtracking on the probe.
He demanded that the probe should be done by a Central agency, especially after he made some fresh revelations last month that in 2015 money was also paid to then State Congress party president Chennithala, State Minister's K.Babu (Excise) and V.S. Sivakumar (Health) -- all Congress leaders.
"I do not have any faith in the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) of Vijayan, as he is heading for a patch up with the Congress-led UDF. Only if a Central agency probes this, will the truth come out," said Ramesh to the media here.
"Vijayan and the former state CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan used to tell me not to back out from the case, but now they have themselves backed out. One day in 2015 Mani had breakfast with Chief Minister Vijayan and after Mani left, the call from Vijayan came to the police headquarters to leave out Mani. (K.M. Mani passed away last year)," alleged Ramesh.
After Ramesh's new revelation Vijayan had asked the VACB to start a new probe on the fresh inputs, and the permission of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan is awaited on this.
What appears even more surprising is Ramesh has also pointed out that at the height of the case in 2015, son of K.M. Mani -- Jose K. Mani -- had offered him Rs 10 crore for withdrawing his allegations.
Ramesh went on to add: "In 2015, I did not name Chennithala as an accused because his wife called me and later Chennithala also called me and persuaded me not to say his name."
"I submitted the audio evidence of Jose K.Mani, pressuring me in 2015 to the probe agency. But then and now, we all know that the VACB will not touch him. He is now a part and an ally of the Vijayan-led Left Front government. For the complete truth to come out, the probe should be taken up by a Central agency," added Ramesh and said, "The politicians are all one and on the same page, saving each other's skin".
The case began in October 2014 when Biju Ramesh, who then owned a string of bars, had alleged that Mani had taken Rs one crore as bribe from Kerala's bar owners to see that the 418 closed bars in the state were reopened.
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