“The central agencies must probe the matter for the truth to come out," hotelier Biju Ramesh said.

Hotelier biju ramesh
news Controversy Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 08:39
Written by  PTI

Hotelier Biju Ramesh has raised new allegations in connection with the Kerala bar bribery scam, this time against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala. Biju Ramesh has alleged that the Congress and the Left parties were playing a "political adjustment game" in the bar bribery case and sought a probe by central agencies.

Biju Ramesh is a former office bearer of Kerala Bar Hotel Association (KBHA), who had raised allegations that bribes were paid in 2015 to expedite the relicensing of more than 300 bars closed by the then Oommen Chandy government. He had named deceased Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani, then Finance Minister, as a respondent in his complaint to an anti-corruption court in 2015.

"Pinarayi Vijayan who had asked me to stand strong in the case later went soft on the matter after (then finance minister) K M Mani met him. How can I trust the vigilance in this case? The central agencies must probe the matter for the truth to come out," Biju Ramesh said.

The office of the Chief Minister is yet to react to the new allegations aired by Biju Ramesh. The allegations come days after the CPI(M)-led LDF government sought permission from the Governor and Assembly speaker to launch a vigilance probe against Chennithala and two former ministers following recent disclosures in the scam.

At a press meet, Biju Ramesh, a liquor baron, claimed the name of Ramesh Chennithala, was not revealed in his statement under section 164 of the CrPC (statement recorded before a Magistrate) because Chennithala had requested him not to do so. However, Chennithala denied the allegations and said that the bar owner has made claims which were investigated earlier and proved baseless.

Biju Ramesh said on the day when he was supposed to record his statement, a person identifying himself as the gunman of Chennithala called him over the phone and handed it over to Chennithala's wife. "Later, Chennithala called me from a friend's phone and spoke to me. I did not reveal his name because he requested me. He was the Home Minister then," Biju Ramesh claimed.

Read: How much does Biju Ramesh own? Here is the full list of his assets from his poll affidavit

Chennithala, in a statement said, it was unfortunate that his wife was also dragged into the controversy. "The comments made by bar owner Biju Ramesh about me and my wife are lies. I did not call Biju Ramesh or ask him not to give any statement against me. It's unfortunate that my wife was also dragged into this matter. She never interferes in any such matters. Biju Ramesh is making allegations for political purposes,” Chennithala said.

These allegations were made earlier and were investigated twice and proved to be baseless and I strongly deny them, he added.

The Congress had hit out at the vigilance probe, saying the move was politically motivated.

Biju Ramesh had recently reiterated his allegations that he had paid bribes to Chennithala, then KPCC president, and K Babu and V S Sivakumar, former excise and health ministers respectively, during the tenure of the previous UDF government. Following this, vigilance conducted a 'quick verification' and sent the file relating to further investigation to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The bar bribery case had jolted the then UDF government, and the controversies related to it were raised as the main political tool by the LDF to come to power in the state.

Read: Kerala govt seeks permission to launch probe against Ramesh Chennithala