Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 1;
Finance Minister K.M. Mani Wednesday sought Rs.10 crore as damages and sent a notice though his lawyer to a hotel owner who alleged that the minister was given Rs.1 crore as bribe to help reopen closed 418 bars.
“If you do not in the next one week, call a press conference and publicly apologise and withdraw the allegation besides paying up Rs.10 crore as damages, I will be proceeding against you legally,” said the notice sent by Mani’s lawyer.
A copy of the notice served on Biju Ramesh, the bar owner, was released to the media by Mani.
Now it’s going to be two weeks since Ramesh, a businessman in the capital city who owns a string of bars, while participating in a live TV channel news programme said that Mani was given Rs.1 crore to ensure that the 418 bars in the state are allowed to reopen.
Since then Mani had come under heavy attack from the Left opposition who demanded that the veteran, 81-year-old legislator who has won every election he contested since 1965, should quit.
Not only did Mani disappear from public domain, he maintained a low profile, but the entire cabinet and his party Kerala Congress (Mani) gave him solid support and asked Ramesh, who is currently in Dubai, several times to produce the evidence to back his allegation.
Meanwhile, while the vigilance department is undertaking a quick verification, the Kerala High Court acting on a petition filed against the graft by CPI legislator V.S.Sunil Kumar has directed the probe team to keep the court posted on the progress of the probe.
Mani’s party has asked a team of senior party officials to conduct a probe to find out if there was a conspiracy to defame the man who holds the record of presenting a record 13 budgets in the state.