Thiruvananthapuram: CPI(M)-led LDF Opposition today continued their protest in the Kerala Assembly over the bar bribery case against Finance Minister K M Mani and twice staged a walkout, even as Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala rejected the charges that an attempt was on to scuttle the probe against Mani.
LDF members entered the House with their mouths covered with black cloth and sat through question hour without participating in it.
Replying to a submission, Chennithala said the probe had been entrusted with the Special Investigation Unit of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau and refuted the charge that government planned to remove Vigilance Director Vincent M Paul from the post.
Chennithala also said ruling UDF's decision to make practical changes in the new liquor policy was in view of some issues that had cropped up at the implementation stage.
The concerns of the tourism sector, problems of workers who lost their jobs due to closure of bars and court observations were the main things that would be considered to make changes, he said.
He also asserted that the UDF government would not alter the fundamentals of the policy, which has clearly established having total prohibition in the state in 10 years.
The start of zero hour witnessed noisy scenes when the Opposition insisted on taking up the issue as an adjournment motion, which was rejected by Deputy Speaker N Sakthan.
LDF which agreed to the request to take up the matter as first submission, staged a walkout in protest over the issue not being taken up as an adjournment motion.
Mathew T Thomas (JDS), who moved the submission, came down heavily on the government and said developments after the case was registered on December 11 clearly showed that steps were on to save Mani.
Before staging a walkout for the second time, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan alleged that UDF's decision to bring about changes in the liquor policy was to help liquor barons.
He criticised the government for coming out with a 'total prohibition policy' in place of the LDF stand of liquor renunciation.