Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani seems to be reeling under pressure to resign following sharp criticism by the High Court in the bar bribery case against him, with the ruling UDF announcing a high level meeting tomorrow to decide the future course of action.
In an embarrassment to the Congress-led UDF government, just few months ahead of state assembly polls, the High Court today cleared the deck for a further probe in the bar bribery case in which an FIR has been filed against Mani.
Mani heads the Kerala Congress(M), the third largest partner in the ruling coalition with nine MLAs.
Apparently taking a serious view of the development, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who had solidly stood behind Mani ever since the scam broke out last year, called an emergency meeting of the Front's high power committee tomorrow to discuss the emerging situation.
Chandy, who was away from the state capital, rushed back and told reporters that a meeting of UDF leaders will be held in the light of the court verdict.
The meeting assumes significance as clamour for Mani's resignation grew even within the Front partners and Congress, besides opposition LDF.
The verdict has come as a big blow to the beleaguered 82-year-old Mani, who has the distinction of being a member of the state assembly for 50 years uninterruptedly from 1965.
Mani, who heads the Empowered Committee on GST, was in Kochi when the verdict came.
Reacting to the development, Mani said there was a "conspiracy" against him and he knew those who were behind it.
A meeting of the KC-M Parliamentary party would be held prior to the UDF meeting, he said.
Sharpening the attack on Mani, the LDF Opposition, which was on warpath seeking Mani's removal from the cabinet ever since the scam broke out, was quick to once again press for his removal.
Left and BJP workers today took out protest demonstrations in front of the secretariat and different parts of the state demanding Mani's resignation.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters that Mani and Chandy should resign immediately, while Marxist veteran V S Achuthanandan said the minister should quit if he had any "self respect remaining."
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