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Abhishek Manu Singhvi withdraws from Kerala lottery case

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 30 (Calcutta Tube) Congress spokesman and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi Thursday withdrew from a case in the Kerala High Court in which he was defending a lottery distributor accused of irregularities.

Singhvi’s decision to represent Megha Distributors had upset Congress members who alleged that the accused firm’s owner was linked to the rival Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the ruling front in the state.

Addressing reporters, Singhvi said: ‘I have decided to withdraw from this case and hence will not appear in this case again.’

‘I saw this case as a lawyer sees it, but now I have realised that there is a huge resentment over my taking up the case and hence have withdrawn from this case,’ said Singhvi.

Singhvi appeared for Megha Distributors – an agent for lotteries of Sikkim and Bhutan – in the court Wednesday and Thursday.

The CPI-M pointed to Singhvi’s appearance in the court and attacked the Congress, alleging that it was linked to the lottery mafia.

Earlier in the day, Kerala CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at the Congress saying if Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was an advocate she herself would have appeared in the court.

‘Such is the relation of the Congress party with the lottery mafia,’ Vijayan told reporters Thursday.

The Congress in Kerala has been vigorously campaigning against the ‘illegal’ Sikkim and Bhutan lotteries whose tickets are sold in the state, alleging that the CPI-M-led state government was helping Megha Distributors.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that Singhvi was instructed by Gandhi to argue the case for Bhutan lottery and Megha Distributors.

‘If it is not true, then Singhvi would have been called back,’ said Balakrishnan.

Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who came under heavy attack in the past few months from the Congress leaders who alleged illegal links of the lottery mafia with the CPI-M, asked the Congress party’s Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy to show the courage to deplore the party chief.

‘They say that they have told the party chief to withdraw Singhvi but today (Thursday) also he appeared in court for two cases of Bhutan Lottery and in one case for Megha,’ he said.

Chandy said: ‘We don’t question his (Singhvi’s) profession but as the spokesperson of our party he should not have taken up this case. We have already informed the party chief.’

With the local body elections round the corner in the state, the Congress-led opposition has been campaigning against the lotteries from outside the state, which have been allegedly making Rs.14,000 crore annually.

The opposition alleges that the lotteries from other states are sold without any checks on the number of tickets sold, the draws announced and the sales tax they are required to pay.

State Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala Thursday spoke to All India Congress Committee general secretary Mohsina Kidwai over telephone.

He is reported to have told her about the situation in the state where the party appears to have cut a sorry figure just ahead of the local body polls scheduled for Oct 23-25.

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