Bar bribe issue: Chandy rejects LDF charge, no going back on policy

Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014,20:24 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today rejected the CPI(M) led LDF opposition’s charge that the UDF government is smeared with corruption with regard to its liquor policy and asserted there was no going back on it.
He, however, informed the Assembly that government was ready to make essential modifications in the policy without touching the fundamentals, in tune with practical problems and court directive on the matter.
Former State Finance Minister Thomas Issac (CPI-M) brought forward the issue through a notice for an adjournment motion and alleged that government was hand in glove with bar owners and was consciously weakening its position in connected cases in court to get the closed bars opened.
Issac’s ground for the motion was yesterday’s Kerala High Court directive to government to grant licenses to 22 more bars attached to four-star hotels in the state. Targeting the UDF ministry, especially Finance Minister K M Mani, he said the circumstances that led to the formulation of the policy led one to believe the charges of Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association Working President Biju Ramesh that Mani had been paid bribe for getting favourable decision.
Defending Mani, Chandy said there was no question of crucifying a person who has not done anything wrong. The LDF opposition is creating a smokescreen on the matter, he added.
Denying the LDF charge that the liquor policy envisaging total prohibition in 10 years time was taken in a hurry by the Congress led UDF due to political pressure from KPCC President V M Sudheeran, Excise Minister K Babu said it was a continuation of promises made by UDF in its poll manifesto. Justiying the policy, Babu also claimed liquor consumption in the state has come down in the recent months.
After the replies of Chandy and Babu, Deputy Speaker N Sakthan rejected leave for the motion, leading to a walkout by LDF members, led by their leader V S Achuthanandan.