Will the Supreme Court order upholding the Kerala liquor policy be a boon or bane for the UDF in the coming Assembly polls?
I Saleem, Kottakkal
The Supreme Court verdict is an endorsement of the government’s liquor policy. The court appreciated government’s intentions. It will reduce the availability of liquor gradually and bring down liquor consumption in the state. Anyone who has an obligation towards society will welcome the verdict. It will lead to sea changes in society. It was former Chief Minister A K Antony who banned arrack in the state in 1996. It got much-needed support. In the 1996 elections, the ruling front got 60 seats under the leadership of A K Antony. Hadn’t he banned the arrack the party would have satisfied with a few seats. It was the decision of banning arrack which saved the UDF from a huge failure in 1996. So the verdict will help UDF, and be a boon in 2016 Assembly elections, no doubt. Any attempt to ban liquor will surely be welcomed by the public especially women.
O GANGADHARAN, ANGAMALY
The Chief Minister daydreams that the SC order upholding the Kerala’s liquor policy will fetch enough votes/seats for the UDF in the 2016 Assembly polls. The CM’s optimistic observation that women and youth would vote for the UDF for the new liquor policy is only a figment of his imagination. The CM’s confidence in this respect is not shared by many other leaders in the front. Instead, most of them have expressed cynicism that seeking votes for the UDF on this count may not be a smooth affair. Total prohibition in our state is a far cry. Hence implementation of the plan in a phased manner or at one throw has to pole-vault many a high barricade. One can perceive that the 2016 Assembly poll results will be just a replica of the recently held LSG poll results.
B G Baliga, Punkunnam
People drink all over the world. Of these, say 6-7 per cent lose control and need help by way of counselling, direction to de-addiction centres and alcoholics anonymous. Instead of following this pragmatic approach, the UDF Government has sent home thousands of people working in bars, saying no liquor in bars. All inter-state and international conferences scheduled to be held here have been cancelled. The government is expected to generate employment. But this fruitless policy has blocked thousands of crores of rupees worth of investment and lakhs of job opportunities for our people without achieving anything! By reducing the number of vending outlets to a miserable 309 it has made citizens wait for hours for a bottle of liquor. The citizens are not going to forget all the misery. They will give a drubbing to the UDF job killers in the elections. The citizens need temperance and not legal prohibition.
Priyanka Nair N A, Kozhencherry
The Supreme Court order upholding the Kerala liquor policy is an official appreciation for the state government's efforts in reducing alcohol consumption in the state. But the court verdict will definitely prove to be a bane for the UDF in the 2016 Assembly polls. As liquor deal is one of the major contributors to the state revenue, there will be a steady decline in the state income due to the closure of bars. Many industry officials, chiefly the advocates of ‘Kerala model of tourism,' have pointed out that the tourism sector in Kerala will be adversely affected by the Supreme Court directive granting bar licence only to five star hotels. Also the bar owners, who lost both their trade and a substantial sum of money as bribe, have threatened to make new revelations against the government. They will oppose the UDF with renewed vigour in the coming Assembly polls.
Raghunath Kadavanoor, email
The apex court verdict upholding the Kerala government’s liquor policy is, in fact, a blessing in disguise for the government and the UDF. The UDF will certainly exploit this verdict to the hilt since they lost its face due to bribery and sleaze allegations over these days. The undercurrents that may happen due to this verdict may provoke electoral and political fallout. However, the government got the courage to preclude any dip in their liquor bill, which has been welcomed by the apex court. In short, the UDF cannot just win the elections because of this verdict. The government and the UDF have already paid a hefty bill for their liquor policy. More squabbles may happen around this verdict and the public is keen to see how UDF will tackle those issues. One thing is for sure that neither the LDF nor the BJP will dare to drive any campaign against the government in this case, which is a relief for the UDF.
A Kasu, Nemmara
Despite the Supreme Court’s endorsement of the state’s liquor policy, the fact remains that the policy is totally flawed as it has failed to meet the intended objectives. With abundant availability in black market and illicit brewing rampant in several rural pockets, those keen on drinking still have hassle-free access to liquor. The new policy is nothing but the culmination of ego clash among powers that be even at the cost of acute strain on the exchequer. Besides, thousands have been rendered jobless, banks which lent crores to bar hotels will be forced to either write off the debts or attach immovable assets, the list of fallouts is endless and Kerala still remains tipplers’ own country! The state government has nothing to cheer about the SC verdict as it will be a Herculean task to tackle all these issues. Consequently, the UDF will have to pay heavily for this faux pas in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Suchitra Sudhir, Mattanur
The Supreme Court order on Kerala liquor policy exonerates the UDF, but the Assembly polls will be against them. So many hoteliers have lost crores of rupees in this three, four and five star confusion, that they will never vote for the UDF. The Opposition parties can easily promise that they can amend the law by voting against the decision, in the Assembly, if they come to power, then definitely people will favour them. They may offer other alternatives like separate family and non-family restaurants, where liquor is served only in the latter. Many people are still wondering why the government beverages are still open, when the government’s stance is apparently anti-liquor in nature. This was a short sighted decision taken by the UDF and will affect the future in Kerala politics for a long time.
Pious Alummoottil, Udayamperoor
The Kerala liquor policy is a two-sided sword. This is a boon and also a bane for the UDF in the next Assembly elections. The drinkers, bar hotel associations, tourist operators, the workers and seminar/meeting conductors are powerful and have enough money and will work against the UDF. At the same time, the common folk, peace-loving citizens, the women folk, community organisations, anti-liquor associations etc. will work for the UDF. The margin between the two will be the deciding factor. But it is a genuine fact that regular drinkers and casual and party drinkers should get liquor at cheap rates. Otherwise they will also work against the interests of the UDF. Therefore the Supreme Court order does not shower any one-sided benefit to the UDF in the coming elections.
Sunny Joseph, Mala
The Supreme Court upholding the Kerala liquor policy is certainly a bane for the government but a boon for its people, especially for the women and children of the boozers. It is an unholy way of grabbing revenue from the people by making their life miserable. Consumption of alcohol is an addiction, which will spoil one’s life, love towards his kith and kin and finally his liver. At the same time, it is a bane for the government because it is the backbone of the economy of Kerala like the NRI remittances. The state’s treasury is now facing difficulties to fill the revenue loss due to the liquor ban. But a good government that thinks the happiness and betterment of its subjects will prefer to killing the goose that lays golden eggs.
B VEERAKUMARAN THAMPI, PATTOM
With the apex court verdict upholding the Kerala liquor policy, the UDF government is a relieved lot. Had the verdict been otherwise, alliance partners would have once again been turbulent. Henceforth, moves or challenges from bar owners are being keenly watched. With self-confidence, they are making it poll topic and accordingly, raised valid question to LDF that in case, they come to power, what would be their policy? With the apex court approving the same, the UDF can make this poll campaign topic as daring action for accomplishing Kerala devoid of intoxication. However, LDF’s approach is to disagree by agreeing itself. They never disagree with the apex court verdict. At same time, they criticise state government’s liquor policy. CPM’s justification is that apex court has merely approved right of the government to declare liquor policy. They share anxieties regarding rehabilitation of displaced bar employees.
RAMESAN P, KERALAPURAM
The liquor policy of Kerala does not carry even an iota of sincerity as it is extemporaneously brewed by the Chief Minister himself only to upset the applecart of the KPCC president who, much to the chagrin of the CM, had covertly plotted a plan to steal the heart of people through anti-liquor crusades. Though the CM could overtake the PCC president in the liquor-race, he is well aware that the policy cannot prevent people from consuming liquor since to drink or not to drink is a matter that should be decided by people themselves. As the revenue from the liquor field has not registered any cognizable depreciation, it is proved that closure of bars has not yielded any of the announced result. Of course it is not going to be a boon for the UDF in the next election for all these facts.
Dr M Haneef, Kottayam
The liquor policy will neither be a boon nor a bane for the UDF in the coming Assembly elections. Electoral victory is not based on the good performance of the incumbent government, rather it is based on the negative performance like corruption, nepotism and scandals. By this verdict, one area of corruption (giving and receiving bribe, related to bar) is made a bare minimum, if not eliminated. The liquor policy of the government was not made based on an eye on votes. It is a social welfare programme based on humanitarian grounds. Knowing well that revenue will come down and the big guns may revolt against it, the government ventured to go ahead. Most of the traffic accidents, murders, contract killings, rapes, family disharmonies etc, no doubt, are under the influence of alcohol. Definitely the verdict is a boon for innumerable women esp. those of low-income groups to wipe out their tears and it is a bane for the Shylocks!
Ravi Nair, Kollengode
By all means, the SC order upholding the liquor policy of Kerala is indeed a right decision while considering the welfare and health of its people. It is a boon to the dejected families that have been facing financial distress. This will be a boon to the UDF Government with the feel good factors like the metro rail project, IREP, inland waterways, the developing IT sector, the international airports and other prestigious projects. But unfortunately the liquor policy seems to be under threat as the undercurrent of it is already felt and the continuation of the policy, (decrease in beverage outlets and no new bars is good to the BPL families), may be broken for the convenience of bar owners as the link between a few politicians and bar owners in this regard is strong.
V S Unnithan,Kayamkulam
The liquor policy of the Kerala government has been part of the buzz for some time. It seems that many people are unaware of the fact that this government has no consistent policy on this matter nor a strong will to enforce a complete ban on drinking. In fact, the genesis of all these problems can be traced back to the half-hearted measures taken by the successive governments, be it the UDF or the LDF. It is too early to pass a judgement on whether the court verdict is going to be a boon or bane for the UDF government for two reasons. In the first place, there are a few more months before Kerala goes to the poll, within which time the verdict may take another course. More importantly, the liquor policy is only one of the many factors that are likely to impact the popular verdict. In any case, the present policy ensures that alcoholism is here to stay
Our debaters are divided on the influence of the liquor policy on the next Assembly polls. Some of the readers have even expressed a cynicism that it would not be a smooth affair to get votes on the liquor policy. We at ‘Express’ feel that there are a few more months before the state goes to the polls and liquor policy is only one of the many factors likely to make an impact on the verdict.