A day after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly that the new liquor policy would undergo necessary changes considering practical and legal aspects, Kerala Catholic Bishop Council’s Anti-Liquor Movement threatened the Congress government with electoral setback.
While addressing a meeting of the movement in Kottayam, its chairman Bishop R Inchananiyil said the shift in the liquor policy of the government forced them to believe the allegation that finance minister K M Mani has accepted bribe for renewing liquor licence of hotels. “We had not believed the allegation that Mani had taken bribe from bar hotel owners. But, the government decision to bring in changes in the liquor policy makes us believe the allegation. The government would face setback in the coming elections, ’’ said the bishop.
The local body elections in Kerala is slated for next year, which would be followed by assembly elections.
Mani, chairman of Christian-dominated regional party Kerala Congress, is a member of Catholic Church. The Bishop is a known as a Congress sympathizer.
Earlier, while the Congress government was planning to allow renewal of licence to eligible among the 418 bar hotels, Cardinal Clemis of Malankara Catholic Church had threatened to bring down the government if it went ahead with the plan to open 418 bars. The threat from Cardinal came while the excise department was inspecting 418 bars for their facilities as per a direction from the high court.
While the Cardinal was addressing the gathering in front of the state secretariat, Congress state president V M Sudheeran had too echoed the same view at that time. A few days after the Church threat, Congress government came out with a new liquor policy, which planned closure of non-five-star bars and total prohibition in ten years.
A similar situation has emerged soon after the government announced in the assembly that it would make some necessary changes in the liquor policy considering the crisis of employees at the bars. The Church is exerting pressure on the Congress government not to water down the new liquor policy. This time also, KPCC chief Sudheeran is also backing the Church stand to win a score over Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Sudheeran said there is no need to change the liquor policy. Total prohibition is Congress stand, he said.
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