Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 7:
Whistle blower bar owner Biju Ramesh Friday said he has briefed the vigilance team that is probing his allegation of money being paid to the state finance minister to ensure 418 bars in Kerala are allowed to open.
Emerging after a four hour meeting with the vigilance team, Biju Ramesh Friday said that he stands by what he has said earlier in the bar graft case.
“I have disclosed everything in detail and this was no questioning at all. They took down everything and it’s just the same that I have disclosed to the media,” Ramesh told reporters here.
Participating in a live TV news programme last Friday, Ramesh said that State Finance Minister K.M.Mani was given Rs.1 crore to ensure that 418 bars in the state are allowed to reopen.
Soon after the revelation, the Left opposition was up in arms demanding the resignation of Mani. Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan sought a vigilance probe.
The Oommen Chandy government formed a five-member vigilance probe team and it was they who took the statement from Ramesh.
“He (Mani) asked for Rs.5 crores and Rs.1 crore was given. Everything that I revealed before was told today to the vigilance. My association (Kerala Bar Owners Association) has appointed a five-member team and later in the day they will hand over all the evidence to vigilance,” added Ramesh.
The executive meeting of the association held Thursday at Kochi decided to back Ramesh and a five-member committee was appointed by them to find out more details of the alleged bribery and if any other minister was given money.
Refuting the allegations, State Excise Minister K. Babu Friday challenged the bar association to come out with evidence.
“Let them say the names of those who were given money. They should not try to say that all are corrupt. If there are any wrongdoers, they will face the consequence for their wrong acts,” said Babu.
Ever since the controversy erupted, 81-year-old Mani who has won every election since 1967, has been keeping away from the media.
He has been supported by the Chandy government and his name has come under a cloud for the first time in a career spanning five decades.