Thiruvananthapuram: Coming down heavily on Kerala government for the dilution of the new liquor policy, KPCC President V M Sudheeran, who had spearheaded the anti-liquor campaign, on Friday said the policy has been virtually sabotaged.
"The policy, that was unanimously approved by UDF and widely welcomed by cross section of people in the state has been sabotaged," Sudheeran said in a statement.
The state government yesterday decided to allow the 418 closed bars to run beer and wine parlours and do away with dry day on Sundays.
Making clear that he strongly opposed the changes, Sudheeran said the interest of liquor lobby was being imposed upon the people's will.
The government's decision to go back from its declared policy "has shocked" people and was "a huge disappointment", he said.
Anti-liquor awareness was one of the main themes of his recent Janapaksha Yatra and it received full support from the people, and a new hope had been generated in the state, Sudheeran said, adding, it was at this juncture, the government deviated from the new policy, that among other things limited bars to hotels in Five-star category.
Countering government's justification of loss of jobs of workers in bars, responsible for changes in the policy, he said the government could have found alternative avenues if it had been "sincere".
He said instead of finding ways to resolve the problems of wokers, attempts were being made hastily to open the closed bars. It was a misconception that foreign tourists would come only if the bars are kept open,Sudheeran said, adding, opening more beer and wine parlours was a cruelty towards the young generation.
Sudheeran objected to the changes at the UDF meeting held on December 15, chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy which had approved the amendments.
Chandy had maintained that the government was deviating from the declared total prohibition by ten years was not correct.
He had said the government had not changed its line of reducing the liquor availability in the state.
Ever since he took over as KPCC chief earlier this year, Sudheeran had spearheaded the anti-liquor campaign and was admant that the 418 bars closed in the state due to poor quality should not be reopened.
The bar issue had threatened to spur up factionalism in the Congress, with leaders loyal to Sudheeran and Chandy coming out in support of their respective leaders, before the government approved the new policy which envisaged 'total prohibition' in ten years.
Meanwhile, Church of South India (CSI) criticised the government for making the changes and charged that it had succumbed to the pressure of liquor lobby.
The policy has been sabotaged, CSI Deputy Moderator Bishop Thomas K Oommen said in Kottyam.