Fresh bribe charges against Kerala minister

Fresh bribe charges against Kerala minister
Bar owner-turned-whistleblower Biju Ramesh on Monday added to the Congress party’s troubles by making fresh allegations of bribery against Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and Health Minister V S Sivakumar.

Biju, the working president of Kerala Bar Hotels Association, told a television channel that the association had paid Rs 2 crore to Chennithala when the minister was president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and Rs 25 lakh to Sivakumar ahead of a byelection in Neyyattinkara, in 2012.

Biju said the money was not given in return for any “particular” favour. “The money was handed over directly to the then KPCC president without any receipt. The association had to do it to ensure that business runs smoothly,” Biju said.

The liquor baron, whose revelations of bribery led to the resignation of former finance minister K M Mani last year and almost cost Excise Minister K Babu his post, said the money for Sivakumar was handed over through a member of the minister’s staff.

Chennithala and Sivakumar denied the allegations. “I was KPCC president for nine years. All political parties, including the Congress, function by accepting contributions from the public. At the KPCC office, contributions are accepted only by issuing receipt,” Chennithala wrote in a Facebook post.

Interestingly, both the ministers belong to the “I” faction of the Congress which was reportedly pushing for a change of leadership after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who leads a rival camp in the party, was hit by a fresh round of allegations in connection with the solar scam.

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