Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday briefed senior Congress leader A K Antony on the UDF Government’s new liquor policy that sharply cuts down on availability of alcoholic drinks.
Chandy, however, denied reports in a section of media that he had conveyed to his senior colleague his resentment at the way sections in the state leadership turned the bar issue into an unnecessary row and even sought to create an impression that he stood for the interests of liquor barons.
“I have not made any complaint against anybody” was Chandy’s reply when reporters asked if he had voiced displeasure against KPCC president M V Sudheeran in the context of rumblings in the party over the liquor issue.
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Antony wanted all sections in the party to stay united and sought to know from the state functionaries the progress of the organisational revamp set in motion last month, party sources said.
Marking a radical shift from the decades-old liquor policy, the UDF leadership last week decided to withdraw licences for bars for all hotels below the five-star category.
Acting on the political decision, the government has decided to issue notices to 312 functioning bars and not to renew the licences of another 418, shut down since April for want of required facilities.
It was the question of licence renewal that paved the way for the new liquor policy, which set total prohibition as the ultimate goal to be achieved in a decade. The bar issue had snowballed into a crisis gripping the UDF after the KPCC president V M Sudheeran openly took a tough position against re-opening of the bars.