Kerala liquor policy pragmatic, practical: Congress

Thiruvananthapuram : Describing himself as the least autocratic, state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran who was criticised by his own party leaders for his adamant stand on Kerala’s new liquor policy, Saturday described it as pragmatic and practical.

“The Congress party is such where opinions are given publicly, but when it comes to the new liquor policy of Kerala, it passed muster at various levels. It (policy) is a pragmatic and practical,” Sudheeran told reporters here.

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He was speaking on the sidelines of winding up his statewide month-long yatra, which will end Tuesday with a meeting here in the presence of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

The liquor policy which was announced in August, following a tough stand taken by Sudheeran, aims to achieve prohibition in a phased manner by October 2023.

“The liquor policy that is in place now has undergone an evolution since K. Karunakaran was in office. I am not an autocratic person. This policy was the need of the hour…It (liquor) has become a social menace and we wanted to end it,” he said.

The policy includes closing down of all bars in the state barring the five star hotels. It was being questioned by the Kerala bar owners association. The Kerala High Court has been hearing the case.

Earlier this, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Kerala assembly that though the fundamental rules in the policy would not be changed, certain corrections would be made with regards to the tourism sector and the rehabilitation of about 7,000 employees of the bars.

Sudheeran came under attack from his party colleagues, state Excise Minister K. Babu and senior Congress leader Vakkom Purushothaman, who went public by describing Sudheeran’s stand as impractical.

“An image is not one that is created by self, instead it has to be thrust upon by people,” Sudheeran said.