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Kerala society divided over banning liquor

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-IBN

Updated:December 29, 2015, 6:10 PM IST
Kerala society divided over banning liquor
Image for representation.

Thiruvananthapuram: It is a major setback for the bar owners and guzzlers in Kerala as the Supreme Court has upheld the state government’s liquor policy that allows liquor only in five star hotels. This liquor policy created quite a political turmoil in the state as former finance minister KM Mani was forced to resign following bribe allegations. The Keralites have mixed reactions to the state government's liquor policy. While some feel that the policy is the way ahead for a better future of the society some feel it's discriminatory and will affect the tourism industry.

Reacting to the court's decision, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said, "The Supreme Court's order is a recognition of the government's liquor policy. Opposition alleged that it was not a well thought out move. Now supreme Court has approved this. Our liquor policy was not taken in a day but right from the time when K Karunakaran was CM our liquor policy has been the same. It was to reduce the availability of liquor. Everyone should co-operate. We are fighting against this social evil of liquor and to save families. I want to ask opposition, what is opposition's view are they supporting this liquor policy."

Prince Pradeep said, "I feel that the policy is discriminatory, the government is only supporting the corporates. Many have been displaced from their jobs. lost their livelihood, nothing has been done for them If the government is doing this with a good will then they should completely ban”

Minnu backs the decision. Minnu said, "It is such a good initiative, we have growing young population, considering the future this is good. I congratulate the government and the court for this."

Bar owners was expecting respite from the Supreme Court. They challenged in court that the state's liquor policy was discriminatory and it affected their right to trade. They stated that the tourism industry is also affected. Meanwhile the state government maintained that the policy was keeping in mind the well being of the people and how they intended to prohibit liquor in a phased manner in a period of 10 years. The bar owners will seek the opinion of legal experts and association would meet to discuss the future action.

Suresh Pillai, Vice president, South Indian Hoteliers and Restaurant Association expressed displeasure over the decision. He said “the verdict is very disappointing. We thought we would have a better 2016. About 60 percent reduction in business, conferences, marriage many evening functions don't happen here. Many marriage parties that used to happen in Kovalam going to other states and even Sri Lanka. Tourism and business affected."

Though the state's liquor policy was upheld by the Supreme Court it might trigger more trouble for the UDF Government. Bribe Allegation by a bar owner had forced former finance minister K M Mani to resign and there are allegations against excise minister K Babu. If bar owners come out with more allegations it can be a headache for the Congress led UDF government at a time when state elections are at the door step.

The UDF government maintained that the liquor policy will be implemented in its strict sense and that the SC verdict will help in reducing the consumption of alcohol. The opposition had been vehemently raising the issue of bar bribe. They claimed that with this order many inside details will come out. The order will create repercussions in the UDF. There is already allegation against excise Minsiter K Babu. More drama that happened behind the curtains will come out and it will affect the UDF.

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