Vigilance probe politically motivated: Chennithala

‘State’s move in the bar bribery scam despite there being no new disclosures in the case’

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has termed ‘politically motivated’ the move of the government to initiate a vigilance probe against him and former Ministers K. Babu and V.S. Sivakumar on the basis of the revelations made by hotelier Biju Ramesh in the bar bribery scam.

Putting on a brave face, Mr. Chennithala said he was ready to face any probe and added no such acts of intimidation could silence him from exposing the wrongdoings of the government. He claimed that the probe was based on bogus claims originally made by Mr. Ramesh six years ago. A preliminary investigation had now been ordered despite there being no new disclosure, he claimed during a press conference.

“The complainant had then released an audio clip that was subsequently found to be fake following forensic examinations conducted in the State as well as in Ahmedabad. The purported revelations had been investigated by both the LDF government and the previous UDF government. They were dismissed by the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau due to lack of evidence when Jacob Thomas and N. Shankar Reddy were at its helm. The preliminary investigation has now been ordered, despite there being no new disclosure,” he said.

Considering the cases were pending before the Kerala High Court and the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Court, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s action amounted to sub-judice, Mr. Chennithala said.

He also accused the government of scuttling the ongoing probes into the UAE consulate-linked gold smuggling case by misusing its various agencies. “Such attempts were being made at the Chief Minister’s behest on realising the Central enforcement agencies were closing in on him. Why has he now changed stance after claiming initially that the investigation was progressing in the right direction,” he asked.

Referring to the decision to institute Vigilance probes in the bar bribery case, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran demanded to know why the government decided against investigating Kerala Congress (M) leader Jose K. Mani’s role despite being named by Mr. Ramesh in his complaint.

He also challenged the Chief Minister to institute a probe into the reported allegations of two of his Cabinet colleagues acquiring benami property in Maharashtra.

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