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Kerala's struggle to be sober triggers political tremors

Kerala's struggle to be sober by living down its reputation for high per capita alcoholic consumption sparked political tremors during 2014 even as the ruling Congress-led UDF maintained its sway in the Lok Sabha polls winning more than half the seats up for grab.



Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's struggle to be sober by living down its reputation for high per capita alcoholic consumption sparked political tremors during 2014 even as the ruling Congress-led UDF maintained its sway in the Lok Sabha polls winning more than half the seats up for grab.

Soon after the din and bustle of the Parliament polls died down, the political discourse in the state centred round the Oommen Chandy government's radical policy shift to shut vast majority of liquor bars to cut down sharply on availability of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and lead the state to total prohibition in a decade.

After the initial enthusiasm over the new liquor policy, the government had to face legal battles as well as political fallout, including a serious graft allegation against Finance Minister KM Mani of the Kerala Congress (M).

To the great discomfiture of the government, which in previous years had deftly deflected the opposition onslaughts, Mani has been booked by the vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly demanding and taking bribe from bar owners on promise of favourable decisions.

The Opposition LDF has seized on it to open a new war front against the Chandy government as the assembly polls are not far off.

The Lok Sabha polls saw the Congress and its allies putting up a creditable performance, compared to most other states, by lifting 12 of the 20 Parliament seats from the state overcoming the incumbency factor.

The state also bucked the pro-BJP trend that lashed most part of the country though the saffron party's O Rajagopal finished a close runner-up to Congress' Shashi Tharoor in the state capital.

Passing away of former Supreme Court judge VR Krishna Iyer, who attained the age of 100 this November but remained largely agile till the end, left a void in public domain of Kerala.

Iyer had left a deep impression on the public domain of Kerala for over six decades as lawyer, minister, judge and human rights campaigner with a rare distinction of making his presence felt in legislature, executive and judiciary.

The state suffered a major setback as the Supreme Court turned down its long-drawn with Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam.

The apex court found no merit in the state's contention that the 117-year-old dam is unsafe and allowed the neighbour to raise the water level of the British era reservoir up to 142 feet.

The Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats triggered strong protests around the state with settler-farmers living on the slopes of the mountain range expressing apprehension that they would be displaced if the recommendations for checking further degradation of the fragile ecological hotspot were implemented.

Known for his penchant to court controversies, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor ran into trouble with the state party set-up for praising the initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi such as Swachh Bharat mission.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, headed by VM Sudheeran, complained to the central leadership that Tharoor's repeated praise of Modi deeply hurt the feelings of the party workers, who had toiled hard for his victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

Ceding to the state unit's sentiments, Tharoor was removed as the national spokesperson of the party.

Kerala has always been known for agitational politics. But in recent months, the state was witness to a new expression of dissent when groups of young women and men gathered on the streets in Kochi and Kozhikode for "kiss of love" protest to vent their anger at "moral policing and vigilantism".

The murder of an RSS activist in politically volatile Kannur district, allegedly by CPI(M) workers, sparked nationwide protest from the Sangh Parivar.

No less a person that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh came down to the home of the slain activist to pledge solidarity and the case has been referred to CBI for unearthing the conspiracy behind it. 

Plight of nurses caught in the vortex of domestic strife in Iraq and Libya caused much concern in the entire state.

However, with coordinated efforts of the state and the Centre, 42 Keralite nurses trapped in Tikrit in Iraq were safely brought home to the great relief of their kith and kin.

Giving a boost to sports in the state, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar visited Kerala several times to promote the football team "Kerala Blasters" in the Indian Super League. Sachin also agreed to endorse the 35th National Games to be hosted by Kerala in February 2015.

Selection of Sanju Samson to the national cricket team was rejoiced by sports enthusiasts in the state.

The death of firebrand leader M V Raghavan was deeply mourned by Keralites, setting aside political differences.

Once a top CPI(M) leader, Raghavan was expelled from the party due to internal differences and he went on to found Communist Marxist Party (CMP), which had been a minor partner of the UDF for long.

From Zee News

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