Kerala: K M Mani resigned from his post as the finance minister of Kerala on Tuesday. This announcement came a day after the High Court endorsed a Vigilance court directive to conduct a further probe in the bar bribery case involving the key Congress ally.
Mani, 82, is also chairman of the national panel of state finance ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).
While announcing his resignation, the Kerala Congress (M) chief said that his party, with eight MLAs, would continue to support the Congress-led government in the state. The ruling United Democratic Front has 72 MLAs in the 140-member assembly.
Stating that he has the “highest regard” for the legal system, Mani said: “I am quitting voluntarily. There was no pressure on me from any quarter.” Mani’s party member and Government chief whip Thomas Unniyadan also resigned Tuesday in an “expression of solidarity”.
Following the High Court order on Monday, calls for Mani’s ouster was raised by the Opposition and a section of the Congress and its allies.
In his defence, Mani had said that he would not quit because several other ministers were facing probes under corruption charges but had not resigned.
Sources said he had also tried to bargain with the Congress leadership, saying that the support of eight MLAs from his party was crucial for the survival of the government. But sources added that the Congress toughened its stand, sensing that having the “tainted’’ Mani onboard would hit the alliance’s prospects in the assembly elections next year.
At the steering committee meeting of the Kerala Congress (M) Tuesday, Mani reportedly said that the other minister from the party P J Joseph and the chief whip Unniyadan should also quit with him. This was an attempt, sources said, to project the bribery charges as an attack on the party.
After several rounds of discussions with party colleagues and senior UDF leaders, Mani finally decided to step down, followed by Unniyadan.