'Bar bribe' row: Sudheeran toughens stand

'Bar bribe' row: Sudheeran toughens stand

Brushing aside the threat of Kerala Bar Owners Association that they would come out with evidence on corruption charges against State Finance Minister K M Mani on the bar licence issue, Kerala PCC President V S Sudheeran today said the owners were not going to get any concession from the government.

Talking to reporters here, on the sidelines of his month-long 'Janapaksha Yatra' which was launched from Kasaragod on Tuesday, Sudheeran said Bar owners should come out with evidence rather than discuss the issue behind closed doors.

Alleging that a large-scale conspiracy was on to tarnish the image of the Congress-led UDF government due to its new liquor policy that envisaged total prohibition in ten years time, Sudheeran said not only "liquor lobby of the nation, but International liquor lobby was behind the controversy."

However, Sudheeran said government would defeat the move of these groups.

At a meeting in Kochi yesterday, Kerala Bar Owners Association had decided to extend support to its Working President Biju Ramesh, who triggered the row with corruption allegations against the State Finance Minister.

The Government had ordered a "quick verification" by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to find whether there was any substance in the charge.

The UDF Government headed by Oommen Chandy has come under a cloud after Ramesh alleged that Mani had demanded a hefty sum from the bar owners for re-opening 418 bars closed down earlier this year for want of required facilities.

The Government had a few months ago tightened the liquor policy by ordering closure of all bars except those attached to five-star hotels with the aim of leading the state to total prohibition within a decade.

The issue is now pending before the High Court after the bar owners challenged the decision.

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