THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Anticipating such a united stand, Oommen Chandy had done enough homework and appeared to have turned the tables by proposing to close down even the 312 bars which are functional as of now.
Breaking away from the clan, he presented a prepared material as if he had already prepared a road map for reaching the ever-receding horizon of a liquor free-Kerala. He told the meeting that as the UDF’s aim was to achieve total prohibition in a phased manner, his government was paving the way for it in a systematic and step-by-step manner.
By putting up a united front, the UDF has salvaged the government which has been rocking in the storm unleashed by Sudheeran and the Muslim League which had been bound by their ideological animosity towards liquor. What began as a lone fight by V M Sudheeran ended with the Chief Minister stealing the show. Sudheeran feels that’s the way it should be.“Though it began as a single-man fight, later we could convince other UDF constituents too. They took up the issue. There’s nothing like the CM stealing the show. That’s how it should be. Being the chairman of UDF, it’s for him to announce the UDF decision,” Sudheeran told ‘Express’.
Meanwhile, political observers are a bit skeptical about the UDF decision as they feel it would be a move anticipating an adverse court verdict well in advance.
“Already, the government expects an adverse verdict from the court. With this decision, some of the bar owners are sure to approach the court as many of them have refurbished their bars spending crores. Will they simply accept the decision to close down the bars? The attempt is to open the bar through a court verdict,” said advocate and political observer K Jayashankar.
When the UDF meeting started, as expected, KPCC president V M Sudheeran who had been insisting on the demand that none of the 418 bars should be reopened reiterated his stand.
Taking a cue from him, Muslim League leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty supported Sudheeran’s view and said his party was in favour of total prohibition. Finance Minister K M Mani had no option but to support Sudheeran as the Catholic Church, the main plank and support base of his party, openly called for closure of bars.