Thiruvananthapuram: With spirited support from the Muslim League, KPCC president V. M. Sudheeran is pressing ahead with his campaign against the reopening of the closed bars. To prevent the differences in the Congress from going out of control, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel called on Mr Sudheeran and Mr Oommen Chandy as well as Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and asked them to reach an amicable settlement, it is learnt.
Leaders close to the Chief Minister had raised the issue before the Congress high command saying that the government had been facing pressure on the bar row from within the party. Mr Sudheeran said at a function here on Tuesday that liquor ban was the general policy of the Congress and the UDF and added that it should be implemented in a phased manner.
“The biggest issue facing the state is the liquor addiction of the people. Everyone, including politicians, should work for a ban on liquor. The state government has been working to implement it in a phased manner,” he said. Muslim League leader and IT Minister P. K. Kunhalikutty extended his support to Mr Sudheeran and said the League stood for liquor ban. It should be seen as a political subject, he said.
Congress leaders belonging to both the factions told DC that Mr Ahmed Patel had asked the three senior leaders to resolve the crisis at the earliest. “He said the image of the party and the government should not be affected at any cost with various leaders coming out in the open for and against Sudheeran’s move. Catholics Bishops’ Conference of India president Cardinal Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos had also opposed the bar opening and the AICC leadership was concerned about the situation getting out of hand,” said the leaders.
Mr Patel has also banned Congress leaders from making public statements on the bar row in television debates.