Congress MLAs back CM Oommen Chandy on liquor policy; brickbats for Sudheeran
news Monday, January 05, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | December 22, 2014 | 17.46 pm IST A majority of Congress legislators in Kerala on Monday gave their full support to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on the changes made to the state liquor policy. The legislators, however, expressed their displeasure over the way party president V.M. Sudheeran criticised the tweaking of the policy. Congress legislator Benny Behanan told IANS that 31 of the 39 elected legislators - except the speaker - took part in the meeting at Chandy's official residence. "The discussion centered on critical statements made by Sudheeran after the government came out with its revised liquor policy last week," he said. "Each one of us has given full support to the chief minister," Behanan said. Seven legislators could not make it to the meeting, but said they would support any decision taken by the other leaders. The meeting was held after Sudheeran turned highly critical and blamed "external forces" for diluting the state liquor policy. Bowing to pressure from various quarters, the Congress-led United Democratic Front government last week decided that Sundays will no longer be dry days. Following the new liquor policy that was issued in August, bars in the state were prohibited from selling liquor on Sundays starting Oct 2. The ruling United Democratic Front, however, demanded that the fundamentals of the policy - to implement prohibition in Kerala in a phased manner by Oct 2, 2024 - should not be touched. Soon after Monday's four-hour meeting, Chandy came out with a statement that the liquor policy was tweaked to make it "socially realistic" and not because of the influence of "external forces". "The new liquor policy is final and no more changes would be made as it has been discussed at various levels," Chandy said. Asked about the Congress legislators' meeting, a miffed Sudheeran said: "I will respond at the appropriate time." Meanwhile, Finance Minister K.M. Mani, who has been accused of taking a bribe of Rs.1 crore to reopen the closed bars in the state, said the government's image has not suffered on account of the liquor policy. Asked about the difference of opinion between Chandy and Sudheeran, Mani said it was an internal issue of the party. IANS
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