The Congress in Kerala is in a major dilemma, Finance Minister KM Mani has more or less made it clear that he will not resign. The UDF allies, expect Kerala Congress M, met in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday and informally demanded Mani's resignation. All the allies of the United Democratic Front are of the opinion that Mani's resignation is the only option.
Sources have confirmed to The News Minute that KM Mani's supporters have conveyed to the UDF leadership that their leader will not resign and if the situation worsens, they will pull out of the UDF. Moreover, many Congress leaders are unsure about forcing Mani to resign as losing him as an ally can jeopardise the Congress' chances in central Kerala. The UDF is in a fix as allowing Mani to continue would give the Left enough ammunition to attack them with.
If Mani walks out with his seven MLAs, this would put Chandy's government on notice. Chandy heads a government with the support of 72 mlas, of which 34 are from various allies of the UDF. The magic number in the Kerala Assembly is 71. Though the Kerala Congress (Mani) group had nine MLA, one if its MLAs, PC George resigned on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the Kerala High Court upheld the vigilance courtâ€™s order that directed further investigation into the bar bribery case.
After the HC order, it seemed that this was Mani's end game and he will have to resign. But by evening, Mani's party Kerala Congress (M) made it amply clear that he would not resign.
The HC order on Monday came after the state government appealed to the Court, seeking that the case against Mani be quashed, but the High Court declined to give a stay order. Instead, it asked the government why it was using public money to defend a minister facing corruption allegations. The court also said that a minister should be above doubt like Caesarâ€™s wife. The HC also asked if it was right for a minister to continue as his own department was conducting the probe.
President of the Bar Owners Association Biju Ramesh had alleged that the association had given Mani a bribe of Rs 1 crore in November 2014 to re-open 418 bars that had been closed down when prohibition was first implemented in the state.
However, when it became clear that the government would not reverse its policy, Ramesh held a press conference saying that the association had paid the first installment of the bribe and that two more were to follow.
On December 10, after a preliminary investigation, the Vigilance department lodged a complaint after which an FIR was registered.