Liquor policy row: Cong legislators extend support to govt

Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014,0:38 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Amid differences between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V M Sudheeran over government’s recent decision to dilute liquor policy, Congress legislators today extended support to the government and sought party high command’s intervention on the issue. In a meeting here, the Congress MLAs expressed reservation on the manner in which Sudheeran criticised the ‘practical changes’ made by the government to the liquor policy, party sources said. The KPCC president’s outburst had created an impression among people that government had an unholy nexus with liquor lobby, they said. According to the sources, legislators even felt that Sudheeran’s criticism was much more than that by LDF Opposition even after government took various initiatives to reduce the availability of liquor through its new policy. Chandy in the meeting explained the circumstances that led to changes in the policy that allowed beer and wine parlours to function in 418 closed bars. He also said amendments were made with good intention. The meeting was held in the wake of widening rift between Chandy and Sudheeran with both sticking to their declared positions. The PCC chief did not want dilution of the policy and has said he had only expressed people’s sentiment and it should not be seen as an act to weaken the government. Meanwhile later in a statement here, Chandy said that the changes were brought about in the policy only by considering the practicality. The changes are only a followup of the liquor policy and it is to curb the availability of liquor and thereby bringing total prohibition in the state, he said. The reason to bring in changes in liquor policy was the problems faced by bar workers and setback in tourism industry, he said, pointing out that 24,784 persons lost their jobs and tourism sector incurred a loss of Rs 6.12 crore. He also said government has taken a final decision regarding liquor policy and it would not be reconsidered. The liquor policy, announced in August, aimed at reducing the availability of liquor and bring total prohibition in a phased manner by closing down the bars and liquor outlets. It was widely seen as an outcome of the pressure from Sudheeran.