Kerala debates reopening of sub-standard bars

Kerala debates reopening of sub-standard bars

The Congress party on Wednesday took a step forward in resolving the contentious issue of issuing fresh licenses to 418 liquor bars in the state, which failed to meet quality standards.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala held talks with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran, who strongly opposed the reopening of the bars that have been closed since April 1.

Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), as well as an expert committee, identified the 418 as sub-standard.

Speaking with reporters here after the meeting, the KPCC president said possibilities of a solution were “slightly better”. Sudheeran said the KPCC would involve other parties in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the discussions. “The talks will continue to arrive at a solution. Unofficial talks with leaders of other parties will also be initiated so that we can arrive at a decision at the scheduled UDF meeting on May 20,” he said.

The KPCC chief slammed the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government that regularised the 418 sub-standard bars and said the UDF was committed to “correcting” the mistake.  Sudheeran, known for his strong views on liquor policies, has been fighting a lonely battle with other top brass leaders in the party that favour a more lenient approach to the bar owners so that they may improve their amenities.

With the chief minister and the KPCC chief reportedly at loggerheads on the issue, the Congress’ allies in the ruling front have refused to step in. Chandy on Wednesday reiterated that they could arrive at solution only through discussions. 

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