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BJP’s Kerala unit woos Kerala Congress

Kerala Congress (Mani)

Thiruvananthapuram: The BJP’s Kerala unit on Monday urged the Kerala Congress (Mani) — the third biggest partner in the state’s ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) — to join its ranks ahead of next year’s assembly polls.

The offer came days after Kerala Congress (Mani) leader K.M. Mani resigned as finance minister following a Kerala High Court order in the bar bribery scam, in which he is an accused.

BJP state unit president V. Muraleedharan said the Kerala Congress (Mani) would be welcomed with open arms if it chooses to join the BJP-led coalition.

“We will say yes to any party other than the Congress, the CPI-M and the Indian Union Muslim League.

“Look, we fought the corruption of Mani – who is an individual but we do not have any problem with the Kerala Congress (Mani) party. We have never said that his party is a corrupt one,” said Muraleedharan.

In October 2014, whistle-blower bar owner Biju Ramesh alleged that Mani was given a bribe of Rs.1 crore after he promised to reopen the bars closed in the state in the wake of a new excise policy.

Following more than a year’s battle, both on and off the court, Mani last Monday resigned from the state cabinet after the high court gave its nod for further probe into the scam.

Hitting out at the BJP, CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said: “The BJP speaks one thing and does just the opposite.

“They claim they are out to fight corruption and look now they are wooing Mani’s party. The BJP always had a soft corner for Mani,” Balakrishnan told reporters on Monday.

The BJP is yet to open its account in the 140-seat Kerala assembly and with the assembly polls slated for early next year, the BJP is doing its best to increase its support base.