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Bar bribery row: Mani rules out his resignation

km_Mani_2183170fThiruvananthapuram: Finance Minister K M Mani Tuesday ruled out his resignation and asserted that he would present this year’s budget as per the schedule.

Mani was addressing the press for the first time after the ‘bar bribe scam’ broke out three months back rattling the Congress-led UDF.

The 81-year-old Kerala Congress (M) supremo said that he was a ‘victim of character assassination and political conspiracy.

‘I am a victim of character assassination and political conspiracy but would not give into pressures since people know that ‘I am an honest person,’ said Mani.

Mani also said the opposition agitation against him reflected their ‘bankruptcy’ and amounted to encouraging the blackmailing by the accusers.

‘I am being haunted for the last three months. The allegation is part of a political conspiracy and I know those behind it though at this juncture I am not going to expose them’, he said.

Putting up a brave face, he termed as ‘anti-democratic’ the threat of the LDF opposition that they would not allow him to present the budget in the Assembly.

Referring to the day-long hartal organized by the BJP yesterday demanding his resignation, Mani said ‘it is a pity that a hartal was called based on the allegation levelled by a bar owner.’

Rejecting the opposition contention that he should prove his innocence, Mani said this went against the fundamentals of jurisprudence as the onus of proving charges was on the accuser.

The alleged evidences brought forward by the bar owner to substantiate his ground including the audio tapes aired through media, were ‘forged’ to support ‘concocted stories’, he said.

In a dig at the media, he said it was not proper on their part to encourage ‘false allegations. My life is an open book. I am the only legislator in the country who got elected from the same constituency uninterruptedly. I am not a coward to run away giving into utterly baseless allegations.’

The bar bribe scam pertains to graft allegation raised by hotelier Biju Ramesh against Mani.

In November last, Ramesh had alleged that Mani had been given a hefty sum on the promise that he would help reopen some closed liquor bars. An FIR has been lodged in the matter for a detailed probe.

Inputs from PTI

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