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Bribe for booze: Kerala CM defends state minister

| | 01 Nov 2014, 05:16 pm
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 1 (IBNS): Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Saturday denied allegations that one of his minister took one crore bribe in lieu of renewing licenses in bars following state crackdown, media reported.

According to media reports, Biju Ramesh, chief of the Kerala Hotels and Bar Association, in a TV interview that was aired on Friday has accused state Finance Minister KM Mani of asking him for 5 crore bribe for renewing the bar licenses.

Ramesh also alleged that he already paid one crore as part-payment to Mani.

The interview created sparked uproar in the state politics. But on Saturday CM Chandy rubbished all allegations against Mani and stood by his minister.

"Allegations against KM Mani are politically motivated and far from the reality," Chandy has reportedly said while addressing the media.

The government and bar owners across the state are locked in a legal battle over the new "no-liquor" policy that aims to achieve complete prohibition in the state.

With the motive to turn the state “booze-free” within next 10 years, The Kerala government decided to cancel the licenses of about 700 bars across the state.

CM Oommen Chandy had, in August, announced that all bars falling in the one-star, two-star and three-star-category have to shut down.

As per state directives, only four-star, five-star and heritage hotels are allowed to sell liquor, which also have to remain closed on Sundays.

Challenging the directive, bar-owners then approached the Kerala High Court seeking cancellation of state order.

But the Kerala HC on Thursday upheld the state Government’s order asking for the bars to shut down immediately. 

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