KOTTAYAM: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today asserted that the new liquor policy of allowing liquor bars only in hotels with five-star tag would be implemented with vigour in co-operation with all sections of society.
The ruling UDF was united on the issue and State Secretary of the main Opposition CPI-M Pinarayi Vijayan had also extended support to the new policy, he told to reporters at his constituency Puthupally near here.
The government had yesterday issued an order on new Abkari (excise) policy in accordance with its decision to shut down 730 liquor bars attached to hotels below five-star categories and phase out state-owned retail outlets, as part of its move towards total prohibition by 2023.
Meanwhile, KPCC President V M Sudheeran, who has been against renewing licences of 418 bars, extended full support to the government on the new policy but refuted reports that he had made comments against Chandy and the government. "I only pointed out lapses on the part of Advocate General in handling the case connected with bars and it was not my objective to caste aspirations against any high person," he said inaugurating an anti-liquor and anti-substance abuse' campaign here.
Expressing the same sentiment of Chief Minister, Sudheeran said the new policy was the united effort of UDF. "All Front partners agreed with the Congress stand," he said adding the main thing now was to implement the new policy in its toto.
Sudheeran sought the co-operation of all in the society to carry out the policy in the same manner in which the UDF received support for formulating the policy. Ever since he took over as KPCC chief a few months ago, Sudheeran had spearheaded an anti-liquor campaign and was adamant that the 418 bars closed in the state due to poor quality should not be reopened.
The bar issue threatened to spur up factionalism in the Congress with leaders loyal to Sudheeran and Chandy coming out in support of their respective leaders. When reports spread that a section of leaders in Congress was in favour of liquor lobby, Chandy stepped in and convened a meeting of UDF leaders on August 21 and succeeded in finalising the new policy with the objective of 'total prohibition' in ten years time.