Kerala liquor policy row: Opposition sharpens attack on excise, tourism ministers

Taking a jibe at Tourism Minister P A Mohammed Riyas, Opposition leader VD Satheesan asked how the tourism director’s statement was released from the office of the tourism minister.
Youth Congress workers protest in front of Excise Minister M B Rajesh’s official residence in Thiruvananthapuram by showcasing a cash counting machine alleging corruption in the new liquor policy
Youth Congress workers protest in front of Excise Minister M B Rajesh’s official residence in Thiruvananthapuram by showcasing a cash counting machine alleging corruption in the new liquor policy Photo | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : While the UDF has upped its ante against the LDF government on the bar bribery issue, Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan has accused the tourism department of hijacking the excise department. Refuting Satheesan’s allegation, Tourism Minister P A Mohammed Riyas blamed the Opposition for targeting him on the issue.

A day after the Opposition revealed that the tourism department had decided on bringing in changes to the liquor policy during a meeting on May 21, Satheesan maintained that the claims made by the tourism and excise ministers were baseless. This saw the tourism director come out with a statement that several issues were discussed during the routine meeting. Taking a jibe at Riyas, Satheesan asked how the tourism director’s statement was released from the office of the tourism minister.

“There is a deliberate ploy on the part of the LDF government to back the two ministers and instead the officials are being made the scapegoats. Is the tourism department responsible for deciding on the liquor policy? What sort of governance is going on here? The Zoom video link which we released on Sunday indicates that the meeting held on May 21 was all about liquor policy review”, said Satheesan.

However, Riyas maintained that there was a clear agenda to drag his name into the row. He said it’s a norm that officials hold meetings that the ministers may not be aware of.

“Already the tourism department director has clarified on the issue. The excise and tourism department ministers had not called a meeting to decide on the liquor policy. The tourism director had called a meeting of the department officials, which I had not directed to hold”, said Riyas.

CB records statement of bar owner Animon

Thiruvananthapuram: The Crime Branch on Monday recorded the statement of the state leader of the Bar Hotel Owners Association, who had sent a controversial voice clip in a WhatsApp group alleging that the bar owners need to pool in money to pay kickback to get their demands included in the proposed liquor policy for the state government.

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