Kerala's vigilance and anti-corruption bureau, headed by Jacob Thomas, seems to have launched an all-out attack to tackle the corruption menace in the state and hook the big sharks. The probe agency has freshened up hopes of the people of the state who had been made to believe that graft has become the order of the day and nothing can be done to clean up the system.
Tightening the grip over the probe into the bar bribery scam, which played a crucial role in the Congress-led UDF's drubbing in the assembly elections, the vigilance has made the days tougher for former finance minister K.M. Mani and former excise minister K. Babu and others who allegedly involved in the scam.
Mani is going through the toughest days in his political career with vigilance probe staring at him in four cases.
A vigilance court has ordered further investigation into the bar bribery case after the investigation officer R Sukesan alleged that his former boss N Shankar Reddy had forced him to alter the case diary in the infamous scandal to help Mani.
Mani is also facing probe in three other cases -- one, for allegedly providing tax relaxation to a poultry firm; two, for allegedly using bribe amount to conduct a mass wedding program; and three, for giving tax relaxation to a chemical unit, causing loss to state exchequer.
The bribery case is haunting Congress leader K. Babu even after it cost him his home turf, Thripunithura assembly seat. The vigilance has raided the houses of Babu, his relatives and alleged benamies and the probe is on.
In the latest development in the probe, the vigilance has pointed the needle of suspicion to Congress leader Benny Behanan too, for allegedly using the bribe amount received from bar owners to settle the solar scam.
In another major move in the anti-corruption crusade, the vigilance Monday arrested K. Padmakumar, the then MD of Malabar Cements in a case related to alleged irregularities in the state-run enterprise.
Kerala is keenly watching the developments. The people just want to see how far Jacob Thomas and co will succeed in the tough challenge they have taken up. It is evident that the agency gets enough support from the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government which came to power mainly through its promises to root out corruption. Is the government sincere in its approach towards corruption or is it just using the anti-corruption watchdog as a tool to settle political scores? The days ahead will have to offer the answer.