KOTTAYAM The Kerala Congress (M), which ditched its four-decade-long association with the Congress-led United Democratic Front and swung to the other end of the political spectrum, now appears to be walking a tightrope in the Left Democratic Front.
The first moment of reckoning seems to have arrived for both sides now. On Monday, counsel representing the Left Democratic Front government in the Supreme Court reportedly described KC(M) leader the late K.M. Mani a corrupt politician during a hearing on the ruckus in the Kerala Assembly during the presentation of the State Budget on March 13, 2015. The State government had sought the Supreme Court’s permission to withdraw the criminal charges slapped against six Left Democratic Front (LDF) legislators for disrupting the Assembly.
The regional party, which has its roots in Central Travancore and led by Mani’s son Jose K. Mani now, hoped to create a new political recipe with its association with the CPI(M)-led LDF. But its association with the Left, which has for long set itself against the `Mani brand of politics’, appears to have landed it in a maze of political complexities on the ground. Such paradoxes have been covered up so far under warm personal relationships between leaders at the top. But, now the legacy of the late Mani itself has been questioned by the LDF government and the counsel’s remark has come as a huge embarrassment to the KC(M).
The LDF had in 2015 accused K.M. Mani of having lost the moral right to present the Budget by allegedly accepting bribes from an association of hoteliers o reopen scores of bars shuttered for maintaining poor hygiene standards. The so-called bar bribery case had rocked the Oommen Chandy government of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.
The police case was that the LDF opposition had destroyed microphones, computers, grappled with the watch and ward and toppled the Speaker’s chair to deter K.M. Mani from delivering the Budget speech. The images of the destruction in the Assembly had remained etched in public memory. They cast the LDF leaders in a poor light.
The case found its way to the apex after the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, and later the Kerala High Court rejected the State’s plea to withdraw the litigation.
The police had booked the LDF leaders under the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act and Sections 447 (criminal trespass) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code. They had named E. P. Jayarajan, V. Sivankutty, C. K. Sadasivam, Kunjahammed, all Communist Party of India (Marxist) members, K. Ajith of the CPI and K. T. Jaleel, an LDF Independent, as accused in the case. Mr. Sivankutty is currently the Minister for General Education.
Back-to-back anti-corruption enquiries had absolved K. M. Mani of any “personal culpability” in the bar bribery case.
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