Kerala liquor issue: CPM may want to capitalize bar row

Debate on the issue set to generate more heat in the coming days
Thiruvananthapuram: Notwithstanding the attempt by a section of CPM leaders to make light of the phased prohibition announced by the UDF government terming it a result of one-upmanship in the Congress, the party leadership is keen to ensure that it is not seen on the opposite side. Though the sarcastic reactions of leaders, including Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan and Mr Kodiyerai Balakrishanan sounded good on the TV channels, considering the tough measures announced in the policy, the party does not want to be evasive on an issue which is so vital for society.
Since the government took the decision after evolving a consensus within the UDF, the Opposition was justified in saying that it was not consulted. But with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and KPCC president V.M. Suddheeran already announcing that the Opposition would be taken on board, and with the debate on the issue set to generate more heat in the coming days, the Marxists are set to back the policy which aims at reducing consumption of alcohol, something which CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has already hinted at.
The two-day state secretariat and the state committee meeting which is to follow are slated to discuss the new abkari policy. It may be recalled that the CPM had opposed the Antony government’s arrack ban in 1996 and warned of hooch tragedies all over the place. As many as 41 people died in one of the major hooch tragedies that took place in Kalluvathukal in October 2000 a year before the end of Nayanar government’s tenure. But despite such tragedies, the LDF could not muster the courage to lift the ban fearing public wrath.
The UDF leaders expect similar support from the people for its phased prohibition policy and firmly believes that it would stay even if there is a change in government. The secretariat and state committee meetings will also discuss the impending state, district and local party conferences, local bodies’ elections and other organisational matters.
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