Probe against Congress leaders in Kerala triggers row

Probe into six-year-old allegations against Congress leaders in Kerala triggers row

Congress leaders say the Left Front government is trying to divert attention

Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the fresh moves to launch an enquiry against him and other Congress leaders was politically motivated. Credit: File photo.

Triggering fresh allegations of CPM-led left front government in Kerala misusing power with a political motive, a fresh vigilance probe is being initiated against Kerala opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and two other Congress leaders on the basis of a six-year-old bribery allegation.

It was based on a recent statement of a bar hotel owner in Kerala, Biju Ramesh, that Chennithala as well as former ministers and Congress leaders V S Sivakumar and K Babu were paid bribe in 2014 for giving relations in then Congress-led United Democratic Front government's liquor policy, that a vigilance probe was being initiated. Chennithala was then Kerala PCC president, Babu was excise minister and Sivakumar was health minister.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was learnt to have given nod for the probe and it is awaiting nod of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.

While opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the fresh moves to launch an enquiry against him and other Congress leaders was politically motivated, CPM state secretary incharge A Vijayaraghavan said that the fresh moves were based on fresh allegations only.

Chennithala said that already couple of teams of vigilance as well as the Lok Ayukta had found that the allegations against him were baseless. He also said that an audio clip provided as evidence by Biju Ramesh was found to be tampered one.

It may be recalled that the bar owners had alleged in 2014 that former finance minister K M Mani took Rs 1 crore bribe, but the vigilance probe gave him a clean chit. Even as the court ordered further probe, the proceedings were closed in 2019 following Mani's death.

Congress leaders said that the Left Front government was trying to divert attention from the serious charges against the government. The arrest of former minister V K Ebrahim Kunju in connection with the Kochi fly-over corruption case and Manjeshwar MLA M C Kamaruddin in connection with cheating investors of his jewellery business were also politically motivated ones to divert attention, the opposition alleged.