Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday had a debate with the Congress-led UDF in the state assembly over the bar bribery case, as the government announced that it would examine if a preliminary probe was needed into allegations against Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
"Vigilance had conducted a confidential probe into the allegation raised by bar owner Biju Ramesh that he had paid bribe to the then KPCC president, who is now the Opposition Leader, for not increasing the bar licence fees. The government is looking into granting nod for a preliminary probe into the matter," Mr Vijayan told the Assembly in response to a question by DK Murali (CPI-M), seeking details of the probe against Ramesh Chennithala in the bar scam.
The chief minister also said the congress leader had approached the Governor seeking to halt the probe against him and listed the names of other opposition MLAs who are facing vigilance probe in the state.
Ramesh Chennithala said the chief minister was attempting to tarnish the image of the opposition and they (Opposition members) were least bothered about any investigation.
"The chief minister said I had approached the Governor. That's right. The incident was probed for the last five years. It was proved that the claim was wrong."
"The matter is under the consideration of the court. It's completely baseless. I have not taken any bribe from anyone. This is a serious attempt to tarnish the image of the opposition. We are least bothered about any investigation," Mr Chennithala said.
However, Mr Vijayan said the Opposition was "annoyed by the achievements" of the state since 2016. People considered the current opposition as a curse to this land, the chief minister countered, adding the whole state knew what happened during 2011-16 when the UDF was in power.
"The whole state knows that there was rampant corruption during that time. The opposition received a tight slap from the people of the state after the local body elections. Please do not question the common sense of the people of the state."
"People evaluate based on their experience. Those who are drowning in corruption cases are pointing their fingers at us," Mr Vijayan said.