Kerala Excise Minister rejects bar owner's allegations

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Thiruvananthapuram, March 31: Kerala Excise Minister K Babu on Tuesday refuted bribery allegations levelled against him by Kerala Bar Hotel Owners' Association Working President Biju Ramesh and said it was part of a conspiracy to topple the Congress-led UDF government.

A day after Ramesh submitted a confidential statement on the bar scam at a First Class Magistrate court, Babu alleged that the bar owner was trying to destabilise the government with the support of certain LDF Opposition leaders.

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Ramesh, who levelled charges of bribery against Finance Minister and KC-M leader K M Mani, had told the media on Monday that he had made a statement before the magistrate against three Congress minister, including Babu, in connection with the bar scam.

[Bar bribe controversy: What is government's action against Kerala Finance Minister?]

Terming the charges "baseless", Babu also released at a press conference an audio tape purportedly containing conversation between Ramesh and certain LDF leaders on the possibility of toppling the government.

Babu said the bar scam was a result of the hotelier's animosity towards the government and especially towards him as out of nine bar hotels owned by Ramesh, seven were closed following the new liquor policy.

"The huge loss of revenue following the government's new liquor policy led to Ramesh turning against the government," he said.

Babu also challenged Ramesh to come out with clear-cut evidence to support his charge that he had sought bribe.

The minister also said he would file a defamation notice against Ramesh tomorrow.

The Congress-led UDF ministry has been under attack by CPI(M)-led LDF since the scam broke out last November.

PTI

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