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Liquor policy row: Kerala govt rejects opposition demand to register corruption case

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rejected the opposition's demand in the state Assembly which met here for the first time after the Lok Sabha polls.
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 10:25 IST
Last Updated : 10 June 2024, 10:25 IST

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Left government in Kerala on Monday rejected the opposition Congress-led UDF's demand to register a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act into the allegations with regard to the "amendment" of the state's liquor policy.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rejected the opposition's demand in the state Assembly which met here for the first time after the Lok Sabha polls.

An agitated opposition later raised slogans against the LDF government and showed placards as a mark of protest by standing in front of the podium of Speaker A N Shamseer.

Though the UDF, under Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan, urged the CPI (M)-led regime to register a corruption case in connection with the issue, Vijayan said a police probe was already underway.

He accused the opposition of raising a fabricated argument and trying to create the impression that something (illegal) was happening in the state.

"The State Excise Minister himself had lodged a complaint with the Director General of Police as soon as he came across false news related to the state's liquor policy," he said.

An investigation is going on over the complaint, and appropriate action would be taken against whatever crimes had been committed, he said.

Vijayan asked whether the attempt by the opposition was to create hurdles in the ongoing police probe.

However, Satheesan questioned the CM's claim and asked what outcome could be expected in a police probe being carried out based on a complaint lodged by the Excise Minister, who is an accused in the alleged scam.

"So, a case should be registered under the Prohibition of Corruption Act on the allegations. The opposition will not compromise on the matter and will hold strong agitations inside and outside the House raising the issue," the LoP added.

The opposition later boycotted the House proceedings and walked out, continuing to raise slogans against the government and demanding the resignation of the Excise and Tourism ministers.

For over a month, the Congress has been raising corruption charges against the Vijayan government over its liquor policy and has been alleging that it was planning to amend it by accepting bribes from bar owners.

They had pointed out that the matter was discussed during a recent meeting convened by the Chief Secretary and a stakeholders' meeting organised by the Tourism Director, the charge which had been denied by both the officials later.

While the Congress-led UDF has accused the LDF government of taking bribes from bar owners to favour them, the Left claims it has not yet held any deliberations over the liquor policy.

The issue of the purported withdrawal of the 'dry day' policy snowballed into a controversy after an audio clip said to be of a bar association member allegedly asking other members to pay money for a 'favourable liquor policy' was aired on TV channels.

The UDF came out with allegations that the Left government sought Rs 20 crore from bar owners to make a policy favourable to them and demanded the resignation of Excise Minister M B Rajesh.

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Published 10 June 2024, 10:25 IST

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