The rift in Congress-led UDF in Kerala over the bar bribery scandal came out in the open on Saturday with youth wing of Kerala Congress(M) directly accusing senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala of hatching a conspiracy to bring discredit to its leader K M Mani during UDF rule.
Kerala Youth Front, the frontal organisation of Kerala Congress (M), wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, seeking an impartial and honest enquiry into the factors that led to UDF's electoral debacle in the May 16 Assembly polls.
The outfit alleged that Congress leaders, including then Home Minister Chennithala and his colleague Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash had played a role in targeting Mani, who was Finance Minister in the Oommen Chandy-led Cabinet, in the bar bribery scandal that led to the downfall of the UDF regime.
Chennithala, leader of the opposition in Kerala Assembly, was recently appointed as chairman of UDF, in which Kerala Congress (M) is a key partner.
The letter claimed that in the election debacle scenario, the conspiracy theory is slowly unravelling with fingers pointing to many leaders and various factions of the Congress party having been involved in the conspiracy.
"Many senior Congress leaders, including the then Cabinet ministers/Central leaders were actively engaged directly or through their proxies and political minions to bring discredit to our leader K M Mani," the letter alleged.
"They include Congress bigwigs like Adoor Prakash, Ramesh Chennithala, the then state Home Minister," it said.
"Even the role of then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is now in doubt," said the letter, signed by Saji Manjakkadambil, president of the Kerala Youth Front.
Describing Mani as the most seasoned and experienced administrator, it claimed there was a demand among public at large that he be made Chief Minister.
"The media too reverberated with the demand. CPI(M) had invited Mani to its Palakkad plenary session to inaugurate the seminar on Kerala Economy. There was a murmur among Congress leaders that Mani was a political threat to their game plan."
"In this backdrop was hatched the bar bribery scandal with the help of some bar owners and Congress leaders which they dropped on October 30 last year," it said.
The letter said UDF and the ministry 'shuddered' at the devastating impact of the political bomb.
"But certain Congress leaders were laughing in their heart of hearts," it alleged.
It also accused Chennithala and Chandy of attending the betrothal ceremony of the daughter of controversial hotelier Biju Ramesh, who had levelled bribery charges on former ministers Mani and K Babu in the alleged bar bribery scam.
It said Kerala PCC chief V M Sudheeran had come out openly against both Chennithala and Chandy for attending the ceremony.
"Being instrumental in the collapse of UDF in Kerala, the Congress party owes an unconditional apology to its allies who were victims of the undermining and sabotaging by Congress factions and as an act of remorse and penance, should initiate an enquiry about the group feuds and other topmost leaders involved in the Bar scam conspiracy to save UDF from self-destruction," the letter said.