His uncompromising stand for total prohibition of liquor in Kerala, which forced the rivals in the government to bottle Kerala in “liquor-free’’ state in a phased manner, has left Congress state president V M Sudheeran high and dry in the party.
According to party sources, the dominating groups of A and I, led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and home minister Ramesh Chennithala respectively, have buried their differences to take on the “persona-non-gratia.’’ The bar controversy has been seized as an opportunity to corner Sudheeran, who was made KPCC chief disregarding the protest from these two groups.
An opinion is being mobilized in the party that Sudheeran is creating obstacles for the smooth running of the government. The charge sheet against Sudheeran is that he is behaving like an opposition leader, who lands the government in trouble at the cost of maintaining his clean image.
Addressing the media on a government platform, former KPCC president Chennithala on Friday said “when I was the state president of the party, I hadn’t intervened in the government affairs. But, I don’t know the present situation.’’
He said it was unfortunate to term Chandy as an agent of the liquor lobby and Sudheeran should have avoided his controversial speech where he stated that there was an attempt to elicit a court order favourable for bar owners.
The other day, Congress state vice-president M M Hassan, a close confidant of Chandy, had blasted Sudheeran openly in media.
“It was unfortunate that Sudheeran tried to depict Chandy as an agent of bar hotel owners. While being at the post of KPCC president, Sudheeran’s concern should not be limited to idealism. He should understand the situation of a party that is in power,’’ Hassan said.
While announcing the decision to close down all bars (except five star ones) in this fiscal itself, Chandy said none can paint him as agent of liquor lobby.
Realizing the build-up against him in the party, Sudheeran resorted to restraint. Sudheeran said the KPCC would give wholehearted support for the government to implement the new liquor policy. “I do not want to create trouble by reacting to the criticism against me,’’ said Sudheeran.
While Sudheeran is facing the ire of colleagues in his party, leaders of minority communities, women outfits and cultural organizations have extended support for him. Even the CPI (M)-led Opposition has mellowed its protest against the decision. The CPI (M) has only pointed out at the practical difficulties associated with implementing the new liquor policy.