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’Three Kerala ministers took bribes from bar owners’

Thiruvanthapuram, January 5: Kerala Fince Minister K.M. Mani was not the only one who received bribes from bar owners, but Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Excise Minister K. Babu also took money to tweak the state’s liquor policy, former chief Minister V.S. Achuthandan said on Monday. Chennithala and Babu, however, denied the allegations. Achuthandan said this during a protest in front of the State Secretariat here, demanding the resigtion of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Mani for taking bribes from bar owners to tweak the liquor policy. “The next time you meet any of these ministers, ask them how much bribe did they take,” said Achuthandan, leader of the Communist Party of India–Marxist (CPI–M).

“They should resign and face a probe. As long as Chandy and Chennithala are at the helm of affairs in the state, no fair probe will ever take place,” he said. Last year, whistle–blower bar owner Biju Ramesh had alleged that bribe was paid to a few ministers to ensure that the 418 bars ordered closed in the state are reopened. Rubbishing the allegations levelled by Achuthandan, Chennithala said the CPI–M leader was trying to take revenge because police have arrested a few people in this connection. “I am ignoring what he (Achuthandan) said because this is the first time my me has cropped up in the bar scam. There is no merit at all in what he said,” Chennithala said. Babu asked Achuthandan to “stop speaking nonsense” and instead come out with evidence to back his allegation. “Even Ramesh (the bar owner) has never said I took bribe. Achuthandan should not stoop so low,” he said. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita

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