Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019
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Bribe for Bar: Pillai’s Tape Says Mani Received Rs 21 crores

N S Sajith

AN audio tape handed over to media by Dr Biju Ramesh, leader of Bar Owner’s Association, discloses that the finance minister and Kerala Congress (M) leader K M Mani has received Rs 21 crores as bribe. The tape contains the conversation between Biju Ramesh and former minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai, and discloses that jewellers and rice mill owners have handed over Rs 19 crores and Rs 2 crores respectively to K M Mani for a favourable decision in the upcoming budget.

In the tape, Pillai revealed that the details of this bribery have been conveyed to chief minister Oommen Chandy. Biju Ramesh previously revealed that he gave Rs one crore to K M Mani for a favorable decision to re open Bars in Kerala. Along with Pillai tape, Biju also disclosed his conversation with government chief whip P C George who confessed that he covertly worked against his leader K M Mani.

In the tape, Pillai encourages Biju Ramesh for a CBI probe into the bribe for bar issue. The conversations held on November 1-2 have made a huge effect in the UDF while the opposition asked for an immediate ouster of K M Mani. According to the tape, Pillai argues that during Lok Sabha elections, one owner of Malabar Gold had collected Rs 19 crores from the owners of jewellery shops. Rice mill owners approached Mani to get the cash bills from Civil Supplies Corporation passed.  

In an expected response, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that he could not meet R Balakrishna Pillai since the controversy began. Pillai did not say anything regarding this issue, he added. K M Mani reacted that Pillai would say whatever he wants. P C George said that he always tried to help his leader K M Mani.

CPI (M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan demanded that K M Mani must be dismissed from the cabinet. He said it is the responsibility of the chief minister to take action and not protect the culprit. Pillai’s statement reveals that, K M Mani is putting up the state’s budget for sale. It also justifies the allegations of Biju Ramesh, Pinarayi added.