Move to close bars exposes disagreement in Congress

Move to close bars exposes disagreement in Congress

Rival camps in the Congress on Sunday continued to spar over the Kerala government’s proposed move towards phased liquor prohibition even as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy reiterated that the move was the result of concerted efforts by the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and no one could take exclusive “credit” for the decision.

Much ahead of the UDF’s announcement of plans on prohibition on Thursday, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran had criticised the government move that purportedly favoured liquor lobbies.

Sudheeran’s stance had led to criticism by leaders in the Chandy camp who felt the KPCC chief was projecting the chief minister in an unflattering light on the bar licence issue.

“There’s no room for any controversy in connection with the decision and there’s no question of anyone taking credit for it,” Chandy told reporters in Kottayam on Sunday.On Monday, the government is set to commence the groundwork on closing down the 312 bars functioning in the state.

Sudheeran, who was in the forefront of agitation within the party against reopening of 418 bars closed over poor maintenance, was reportedly kept out of the final stage of talks that led to Thursday’s largely unexpected decision to close down all bars except the ones in five-star hotels that also doubled as Chandy’s crucial counter-move against his critics.

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