Row among Congress leaders over Kerala liquor policy takes new turn
The row between Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief V M Sudheeran and former state president of Mahila Congress Shanimol Usman has taken a new turn on Friday with the latter questioning his attempt to impose his stand on the government over the liquor policy.
By T K Devasia
Published: Sat 10 May 2014, 11:36 PM
Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:51 PM
Taking part in a talk show in a Malayalam news channel, she said that the person heading the party cannot have personal opinion on issues concerning party and the government. She was referring to the objections raised by Sudheern to the reopening of 418 liquor bars closed before the election due to poor standards.
While the government wants the bar licenses of hotels with two-star facilities renewed and others given time to improve their standards, the KPCC president insists on keeping the bars shut. Talks at several levels failed to convince Sudheeran, a strong anti-liquor crusader.
Sudheeran has also taken strong stand against building a new airport in the private sector at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district and mineral sand mining along the state’s coasts. However, he has not aired his opinion on these issues after he has become the party president.
Usman, a former secretary of All India Congress Committee (AICC), accused Sudheeran of usurping the government’s powers. She said that a decision on giving licenses for bars was solely within the purview of the governmental power and the party chief had no right to intervene in it.
Sudheeran has been standing firm on his stand saying that it was in accordance with the party’s policy to introduce prohibition in phases. He said that the liquor sales in the state had come down by nearly one million litres since the bars were closed from April1.
The party chief cited this as a befitting reply to those who claimed that the closure of bars will not bring down liquor consumption.
He said that the closure of 418 bars had not only brought down liquor consumption but also led to a fall in crimes and road accidents. The row between Sudheeran and Usman erupted after the latter sought a probe into the alleged links between federal minister of state for civil aviation and party’s Aleppey candidate K C Venugopal and solar scam accused Saritha S Nair.
It snowballed when Sudheeran dubbed her as a tool in the hands of the liquor lobby and appointed a three-member commission to initiate disciplinary proceedings against her for her continued attack on Venugopal. Usman has also questioned the relevance of the commission.
She said she was shocked by the moves against her since she had aired her opinion only in the party forum. She said she had not expected such a reaction from a leader who has been openly criticizing the party and the government before he was elevated to the post of the party president.
Usman said she was pained by the attempts to portray her as a representative of the liquor lobby. She considered it as a personal insult. She has urged Sudheeran to prove his charge or withdraw his remarks.