Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday reacted sharply to the new liquor policy of Kerala's Left government, saying that the policy will take the state backwards.
"This is a policy that will take the state of Kerala backwards while our policy, that has been tweaked now, was one that evolved over stages from the time of K. Karunakaran and broadly based on the Udayabanu Commission. It was during Antony's tenure (1995-96) that arrack was banned and when we were in power, our annual liquor policy was to achieve prohibition in a phased manner," Chandy told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
In a passionate plea to Vijayan, Chandy said that this new policy is going to be detrimental to Kerala and it should be withdrawn.
"The Left is bluffing with their repeated statements about the figures of liquor consumption. The truth is that while we were in office, the figures of liquor consumption were posted online, while the Vijayan government in the past one year has not posted the liquor sales. We have authentic figures to prove that during the previous two years, liquor sales came down by 3.49 crore litres," he said.
He added that their liquor policy had only one objective which was the good of the society. "We lost the elections after arrack was banned and we lost it again last year. We never ever looked into the vote bank but we only looked into the good of the society," added Chandy.
In a major move, the Kerala government led by Pinarayi Vijayan's Cabinet on Thursday approved the new liquor policy under which all closed down bars in three and four-star hotels would be allowed to reopen.
The timing of the bars has been changed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., while in tourist places it will get an hour's extension, that is, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The minimum age to drink liquor has also been raised from 21 to 23 years.
While announcing the new policy, Vijayan said he has full regard for the anti-liquor campaigners but "this is not a feasible and practical solution" and hence they were forced to formulate a new policy.
He said toddy will now be served in star hotels, which was not allowed earlier.