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Congress-led UDF demands judicial probe into Kerala 'bar scam'

Author : IANS

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 25 (IANS) With the Kerala government deciding to give the nod for a Crime Branch probe into an audio clip where bar owners were purportedly asked to pay Rs 2.50 lakh each for "favourable liquor policies", the Congress-led UDF, which met here on Saturday, demanded a judicial probe into the issue.

UDF convenor and veteran Congress leader M.M. Hassan said the ploy of the Pinarayi Vijayan government in announcing a police probe is to save state Tourism Minister P.A. Mohammed Riyas, the CM's son-in-law, as the amount involved is in excess of Rs 20 crore.

"The police probe is meant to save Riyas and Excise Minister M.P. Rajesh. We demand a judicial probe into the bar scam that has surfaced with the audio clip. All aspects with regards to the sanctioning of bars have to be probed," he said, demanding both these Ministers quit.

"In 2015, this very same Vijayan-led Left had created a ruckus both inside and outside the Assembly and even then state Finance Minister K.M. Mani was literally attacked when he tried to present the annual Budget in the Assembly. Then the allegation this Left raised was corruption to the tune of Rs 5 crore, whereas now the audio reveals a massive corruption," Hassan added.

When the Vijayan government assumed office in 2016, there were 29 bars in the state, and now that figure has crossed 900 and many fresh bar license applications are likely to be cleared soon. In the past three years, a record 130 new bars were sanctioned.

With both the Congress and the BJP attacking the Vijayan government for this "massive corrupt deal", Rajesh demanded a probe into this audio clip by writing to the state police chief and soon thereafter, Vijayan, who is also the Home Minister, gave the nod for it.

Though Rajesh and others have said no decision has been made, it was Riyas who is reported to have held discussions with players in the tourism industry, but on Saturday, he broke his silence on the issue and said no such discussions had taken place at all.



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