The Kerala government has sought permission from the Governor and Assembly speaker to launch a probe against Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala and two former ministers in the backdrop of recent disclosures in the bar bribery case with the Congress saying the move was 'politically motivated.'
The development comes as the three phase local body polls are set to commence from December 8.
Biju Ramesh, a liquor baron, recently repeated his allegations that he had paid bribes to Chennithala, then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, and K Babu and VS Sivakumar, former excise and health ministers respectively, during the tenure of the previous United Democratic Front government.
Following the fresh disclosures, vigilance had conducted a quick verification and sent the file relating to further investigation to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The file has been sent to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Speaker P Sreeramakrsihanan's office, CMO sources said.
Reacting to the development, Chennithala said he welcomed any probe on the matter.
"Six years ago, I had denied the allegations when I was KPCC president. My hands are clean. No one has offered or accepted any bribes".
The present move is politically motivated, the veteran congress leader told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
Two vigilance directors-- Sankar Reddy and Jacob Thomas -- had probed the allegations and found no substance in it, Chennithala said.
Three probes had rejected the accusations, he said, adding that the opposition was being targeted as the government is on a backfoot over the various allegations raised by the UDF against the government and the investigations by the central probe agencies on the gold smuggling case.
The matter is before the Kerala High Court and it is surprising how the CM has given nod for preliminary probe on a matter which is subjudice, Chennithala said.
"I am very happy. Let one more probe be held. Do not scare us with the probes," he said, hitting out at the CM.
Chennithala had also written to the Governor stating that the allegations had been probed and were found baseless.
KPCC President Mullapally Ramachandran said the Chief Minister was acting in 'vengeance' to target opposition leaders.
Biju Ramesh, former working president of the Kerala state Bar Hotel Owners Association, had alleged he had handed over crores of rupees to the UDF leaders.
He had also alleged that Kerala Congress (M)â€™s Jose K Mani faction had offered money for withdrawing the bribery allegations against Joseâ€™s later father and KCM leader KM Mani.
Mullapally also sought to know if the CM would order an investigation relating to the accusation against Jose.