Bar bribery case audio clip puts Oppn in spot

The role of Kerala’s Opposition Left Democratic Front in the bar bribery scam was back in focus on Monday after an audio clip revealed that “promises” it made to affected bar owners could have fuelled charges of corruption against the Congress-led coalition government.

The clip, taken from evidence submitted by bar owner Biju Ramesh to the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to back his bribery allegations against ministers, has Biju telling members of Kerala Bar Hotels Association that the Opposition has promised to open 418 bars closed by the government, if it returns to power.

Biju is heard stating that leaders including CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have agreed on the plan, provided the bribery allegations lead to the fall of the government.

In the clip, Biju also tells the association members that R Sukesan, VACB Special Investigation Unit SP, had asked him to name four ministers in the scam. Sukesan is facing a Crime Branch probe for his role in an alleged conspiracy, along with Biju, in the scam.

Biju’s allegations of bribery in connection with issuance of bar licences had led to resignation of veteran leader K M Mani as finance minister last year. Excise Minister K Babu is also facing charges of corruption in connection with the scam.

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