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Bar policy bares differences between Congress and Kerala government
13-09-2014

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The new liquor policy of Kerala government seems have created differences between the Congress party and the government, if observations of members during the executive committee of the KPCC were any indication.

While some leaders did not openly criticise the policy, they expressed reservations about whether the move was well planned. The Congress A-group also used the occasion to protest against a potential party restructuring. The meeting also saw MM Jacob and VM Sudheeran exchanging not-so-pleasant comments against each other.

V Sivadasan Nair of the A-group started the charge against the government and accused that KPCC chief VM Sudheeran and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had different agendas with regard to the liquor policy. He said that while banning plastics and liquor were welcome moves, the government also had to focus on mundane and more-pressing issues concerning pensions, health, roads etc.

Acknowledging that there are many groups in the party, he said that now a new group was emerging, the group of those who have no group! He suggested that the leader of this group was VM Sudheeran.

MM Jacob took the chance to take potshots at VM Sudheeran and said that he was not saying anything because he did not want to be sidelined, suggesting that dissent was not tolerated within the party. He said that all in the party should be given a chance to speak their opinion. VM Sudheeran also responded to the jabs by saying that many senior leaders were not tolerant enough.

Benny Behanan enquired whether it was proper for VM Sudheeran to take the help of community and religious leaders to embarrass the government. He said that future decisions of the liquor policy need to be practical. He also said that restructuring within the lower levels of the party was insignificant now that AICC restructuring was about to take place soon.

Saying that the central leadership was still reluctant to find out reasons for the drubbing the party received during the recent elections, the leader said that the CM and the KPCC president need to prevail on the top leadership to review election results. D Sugathan, who opposed the liquor policy, said that it would harm the SNDP.

While DCC presidents supported the move of the government, the sentiment that the decision was a hurried one was palpable among them. MM Hassan, who pressed a motion in support of the policy, explained the problems he had to face after he was branded as a member of the liquor lobby and hoped the motion would clear his name.

In his speech, VM Sudheeran said that he had no differences with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and said that he was close to the CM, AK Antony and Vayalar Ravi. He said he has no group since 15 years. The CM also denied that the liquor policy was a quickly adopted one. The KPCC president also said that bar employees who lose jobs would be rehabilitated and stated that the Supreme Court order did not endanger plans to bar liquor in the state.

Later, in a press meet, VM Sudheeran said that such a meeting was called because there were differences of opinion between leaders. If all had the same opinion, then there was no need to call a meeting. He also called on the media not to speculate on the general mood of the meeting just because there were some divergent views.