Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani on Tuesday announced his decision to resign.
Mr. Mani, under tremendous pressure from leaders of the Congress and other constituents of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) following adverse remarks from the Kerala High Court, announced his decision to resign from the Oommen Chandy Cabinet.
"I am resigning as a sign of my respect for rule of law, I am resigning as Minister. I am sending across my resignation letter to the Chief Minister. I am grateful to the Chief Minister and my colleagues. I will continue to give unreserved support for the UDF and the government," Mr. Mani told reporters.
Government Chief Whip Thomas Unniyadan, Mani loyalist in the Kerala Congress (M), announced that he was also resigning in solidarity with Mr. Mani. "I am resigning as Government Chief Whip in solidarity with Mani Sir," he said.
However, Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph, the second nominee of the KC(M) in the Cabinet, has refused to resign along with Mr. Mani despite the KC(M) veteran's best efforts to get him also to step down.
Clamour for Mr. Mani's resignation, confined to the CPI(M)-led Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) till Monday, spread to the ruling alliance when a Single Bench of the High Court virtually questioned the rationale of his continuation in office when a Vigilance investigation was on against him in the bar bribery case. The allegation against Mr. Mani is that he had taken bribe from bar owners to facilitate bars that had been shut down as part of a policy initiative by the UDF government.
Mr. Mani refused to bow to pressure till late evening on Tuesday on the plea that the Single Bench's observations could be challenged in higher courts. However, he had to change tack when it became obvious that the Congress high command was resolved to see him out of the Cabinet and the other UDF constituents were fully in agreement with the call for his resignation.
The first indication of his change of heart came at the nearly two-hour-long meeting of the KC(M) steering committee on Tuesday afternoon where he expressed his readiness to step down.
Emerging from the meeting, senior KC(M) leader C. F. Thomas told reporters that a decision on the question of Mr. Mani's resignation would be taken jointly by Mr. Mani and Mr. Joseph. The decision would then be communicated to the UDF leadership, he said.
The formal announcement was, however, delayed as the Mani and Joseph factions of the KC(M) could not agree on the Mani faction's proposal that Mr. Joseph also step down in solidarity with Mr. Mani. The suggestion was rejected outright by the Joseph faction.
The situation in the UDF remained tense through the evening with emissaries moving back and forth between the official residences of Mr. Mani and Mr. Joseph. The UDF leadership also found Mr. Mani's insistence that the party should forego all its positions in government and there was a communication to Mr. Joseph that he should not budge from his stand regardless of the provocation.
Finally, Mr. Mani sent in his resignation to the Chief Minister through an emissary around 7.30 pm.
Governor accepts Mani's resignation
Governor P. Sathasivam has accepted the resignation of K.M. Mani as Finance Minister, an official communication from the office of the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.
Mr. Chandy had told reporters shortly after receiving Mr. Mani's letter of resignation that he would forward the letter to the Governor immediately.
Main events in Bar bribery case
Kerala Bar Hotel Owners Association working president Biju Ramesh comes out with allegation that Mani had demanded a bribe of Rs 5 crore and accepted Rs 1 crore for the renewal of bar licences in April 2014.
State Vigilance and Anti—Corruption Bureau registers an FIR against Mani and begins probe on a complaint filed by CPI(M) veteran and state Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan based on the allegations of Ramesh.
State Assembly witnesses unprecedented chaos when CPI(M)—led LDF Opposition members tries to prevent Mani from presenting the state budget for 2015—16.
Ramesh gives statement before the court against Mani in the case.
CPI(M) led LDF opposition holds march to state secretariat as part of its agitation demanding resignation of Mani.
Bar bribery case witness and Ramesh’s driver, Ambili, undergoes polygraph test.
Test results indicate that Ambili’s statement that he saw Mani accepting bribe is true.
Investigating Office Vigilance Superintendent R Sukesh submits ‘quick verification report’ to Vigilance Director Vinson M Paul stating that there was evidence to take case against Mani. The Director disagrees with the report.
Investigating Officer submits a final report before special court seeking closure of the case.
Vigilance submits all materials related to the case in court.
Special Vigilance Court reserves final verdict after completion of hearing.
Vigilance Court quashes final report of Vigilance to close the case and orders further probe into it.
Kerala High Court refuses interim stay on Special Vigilance Court order for further probe.
High Court upholds vigilance court order for further probe.