Kerala Excise Minister Quits Over Bar Bribery Scam

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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala excise minister K Babu resigned on Saturday after a vigilance court ordered an inquiry against him in the bar bribery case.

A vigilance court in Thrissur said the probe should be conducted after registering a case against the minister. Babu handed over his resignation letter to chief minister Oommen Chandy immediately after that.

A bar owner, Biju Ramesh, had alleged that Babu had demanded a bribe of Rs 10 crore and that he gave him Rs 50 lakh for giving a reduction in bar licence fee.

Babu alleged a political conspiracy saying there was a meeting between the bar owners and CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at the residence of MLA Sivankutty.

In that meeting the CPI (M) had asked the bar owners to make allegations against more ministers, he alleged.
Babu also pointed out that, apart from the allegations of Biju Ramesh, there was no proof against him.

In an apparent reference to the liquor policy of the Congress-led UDF government to close down more than 700 bar hotels as part of its prohibition plan, he described himself as a ‘martyr’ for implementing a government scheme for welfare of the society.

“Can CPI (M) in their election manifesto say what is their stand on the liquor policy? Will they reopen the bars?” he said.

The resignation comes as a blow the ruling Congress-led UDF just a few months ahead of assembly elections in Kerala.

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