In an embarrassment to the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala, party veteran V S Achuthanandan today asked the central leadership to take “proper steps” against Electricity Minister M M Mani, whose petition to discharge him as an accused in a murder case was rejected by a court.
Achuthanandan, Chairman of the State Administrative Reforms Committee, in a letter asked the leadership to take proper steps against Mani in the wake of the court rejecting his petition.
He said it was ethically and morally incorrect for Mani to continue as minister as he was the second accused in murder case, the former Chief Minister pointed out in his letter.
Achuthanandan’s statement assumes significance as the state party leadership had stood behind Mani after the court in Thodupuzha passed the verdict on December 24.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan maintained there was no bar on Mani continuing as minister.
“There is no need for Mani to quit office”, he said.
However, Balakrishnan said he was not aware of Achuthanandan’s letter to the party leadership.
Meanwhile, putting pressure for his resignation, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said Mani’s continuation as minister was a “challenge” to the judiciary and people.
“This is the first time in Kerala’s history that a person accused in a murder case is continuing as a minister, he said.
Thodupuzha Additional Sessions Court had dismissed the discharge petition of Mani, a member of the CPI-M state Secretariat, on December 24.
He was made a minister last month following resignation of Industries Minister E P Jayarajan on charges of nepotism.
With dismissal of his petition, Mani will continue being second accused in the case, related to the murder of Youth Congress leader Anchery Baby in November 1982.
Baby was shot dead at Udumbanchola in the district on November 13, 1982.
There were nine accused in the case, all of whom were acquitted by a lower court, which was later upheld by the High Court.
The case was reopened by the previous Congress led UDF government after Mani made two controversial speeches in 2012 in which he publicly stated that the Communist party had often eliminated its political foes in Idukki district in the 1980s.