×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Kerala liquor policy row: Congress demands minister's resignation, seeks judicial probe

The grand old party reiterated its allegation that the decision to amend the liquor policy was taken during a meeting convened by the Tourism Department on May 21.
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 12:24 IST
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 12:24 IST

Follow Us :

Comments

Thiruvananthapuram: A bar bribery allegation similar to the one against the AAP government in Delhi as well as the previous Congress government in Kerala is now haunting the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government in the state.

Bar owners were allegedly pooling Rs 2.5 lakh each to bribe the CPM-led government to get relaxations in the state's liquor policy. Revoking dry days on the first day of every month and extending the working hours of bars are long time demands of the hotel and tourism industry, while allowing liquor sales in IT parks and permitting more resto-bars at tourist destinations are among the other demands of the industry.

The allegations surfaced after an audio message sent by the Federation of Kerala Hotel Association Idukki district president Animon leaked last week. In the message purportedly sent to other hotel owners, Animon could be heard asking all to contribute Rs 2.5 lakh each so as to get the relaxations in the policy.

As the message triggered the bar bribery allegation against the government, the office bearer made a clarification that the funds were pooled for constructing a building for association. But the clarification seems to be not genuine as a collection of Rs 1 lakh was made from bar owners earlier in that connection, industry sources said.

Even as the CPI(M) rejected the bribery allegation and the Excise Minister M B Rajesh lodged a police complaint, a recent meeting of the stakeholders of the tourism sector convened by the tourism department further fueled the allegation as bar hotel association representatives were also invited to the meeting. Opposition Congress and BJP also gave a fresh twist by alleging that tourism minister P A Muhammed Riyas, the son-in-law of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, was intervening into the affairs of the excise department. 

The bureaucracy, however, protected the political bosses as tourism director Sikha Surendran came out with a clarification that the meeting was initiated at the officers' level and the tourism minister had no knowledge about it. Stakeholders raised various issues affecting the industry. But no reports were sent to the government, said the tourism director.

Both Congress and BJP have demanded a judicial probe by keeping off the excise minister from the cabinet and also asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to react to the allegations.

A similar bar bribery allegation had rocked Kerala during the term of the Congress government led by Oommen Chandy from 2011 to 2016. Bar owners had then alleged that then finance minister K M Mani had taken bribes assuring relaxations in the liquor policy in their favour.

CPM, which was the then opposition party, had then staged major protests in the state in that connection. Mani was even forced to resign following adverse court remarks.

After Mani's death, the Kerala Congress (M) party founded by Mani and now headed by his son Jose K Mani joined the left-front and is now part of the left-front government.

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 27 May 2024, 12:24 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT