CPM rejects demand for CBI probe into bar bribe row

CPM rejects demand for CBI probe into  bar bribe row

The CPM in Kerala rejected party veteran and Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan’s demand for a CBI investigation into bribery allegations against Finance Minister K M Mani on Wednesday and, instead, sought probe by a court-monitored special investigation team.

CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here that the party had apprehensions on the credentials of the CBI that was termed a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court. “The probe has to be conducted by an authority that can’t be swayed by political pressure. A Special Investigation Team should be constituted for the probe the progress which should be monitored by the court,” Vijayan said after a CPM state secretariat meeting.

Mani, chairman of the Kerala Congress (M), a Congress ally in the Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), has been accused by Biju Ramesh, working president of the Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association, of receiving Rs 1 crore as bribe to help revoke a ban on sub-standard bars.

With the party’s official faction under Vijayan making its stand clear, another round of debates is on in political circles around Achuthanandan’s voice of dissent within the party. The Leader of the Opposition had repeatedly sought a CBI probe into the allegation citing the seriousness of the charges.

Vijayan said the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Socialist Janata Democratic (SJD) — former Left allies and now part of the UDF — were not allowed to return to the Left Democratic Front (LDF). Achuthanandan had earlier urged the two former allies to leave the “corruption-tainted” UDF. The CPM state secretary reiterated the demand for resignation of the Finance Minister.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy dismissed demands for a CBI probe into the charges and said the UDF supported Mani.

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