Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M] Polit Bureau member Pinarayi Vijayan has demanded the removal of Excise Minister K. Babu from the Cabinet as well as order a fresh probe against him in the wake of the disclosures made by Kerala Bar Hotel Association leader Biju Ramesh in the bar bribery case. Addressing a news conference in Kozhikode on Tuesday, Mr. Vijayan also demanded that the State government order an impartial inquiry into the allegations that two more Congress Ministers were involved in the scandal. Previously, it was thought that apart from the Finance Minister K.M. Mani, there could be also be the Excise Minister. This was because no shady dealings could take place without the absence of the Excise Minister in an issue of re-opening closed bars. The investigations should be done in a proper manner instead of a farcical quick verification report, he said.
The Excise Minister was in the forefront whenever Chief Minister Oommen Chandy faced a political crisis, he said. “The Chief Minister is the Excise Minister himself. Mr. Babu is only a proxy. Mr. Chandy is the de-facto Excise Minister,” Mr. Vijayan said. On Monday, Mr. Ramesh had given a statement before the judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that Mr. Mani’s son, Jose K. Mani had tried to influence a witness in the case. He had also submitted evidence against four Ministers, including Mr. Mani and Mr. Babu.
Mr. Vijayan said that a team involving senior IPS officers should carry an impartial inquiry into the role of two other Congress Ministers. The CPI (M) leader dropped enough hints that the two Congress Ministers were the Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and the Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, but expressed doubts whether the probe would be carried out properly if one of the Ministers handled the Home department portfolio.
The situation is so pathetic in the State with the Excise Minister minting money in the name of renewing bar licences and the Finance Minister taking cash before every other budget, he said. Mr. Vijayan said that the allegations raised by K.B. Ganeshkumar, MLA against the Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju was of serious nature and this could not be taken as a personal animosity between them. Mr. Ganeshkumar was previously in the United Democratic Front and now out of the Congress-led coalition. But his ouster was not because of the differences with the Indian Union Muslim League, he said.
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