Congress alleges Kerala Ministers “lied” about liquor policy, demands judicial probe

PTI, May 26, 2024, 1:25 PM IST

The Congress on Sunday continued its attack against the Left government in Kerala over its liquor policy, accusing Excise Minister M B Rajesh and Tourism Minister P A Mohammed Riyas of ”lying” to the public by claiming that no discussion had taken place regarding the scrapping of the ”dry day” norm.

The opposition party questioned the silence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the issue and asked why a vigilance probe had not been ordered into the allegations despite receiving a complaint.

The Congress also called for the government to announce a judicial probe into the allegations and to sack the excise minister.

The criticism came after reports that the state government was considering scrapping the ‘dry day’ norm (which prohibits the sale of alcohol in the state on the first day of every calendar month), sparking a political storm in the state.

While the Congress-led UDF has accused the LDF government of taking bribes to ‘favour’ bar owners, the Left claimed it has not yet held any deliberations over its liquor policy.

While addressing a press conference here, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan rejected the claims by Tourism and Excise Ministers that no discussions were held with regard to the ”dry day” norm.

Both the ministers were uttering ”blatant lies,” he alleged and further charged that meetings were held at the government level and the bar owners had begun to collect money for a ”favourable liquor policy” after that.

He also warned that intense agitation will be launched against the ”bar scam.” The issue of withdrawal of the ‘dry day’ policy snowballed into a controversy after an audio clip purportedly of a bar association member allegedly asking other members to pay money for a ‘favourable liquor policy’, was aired on TV channels.

The opposition Congress-led UDF came out with allegations that the Left government sought Rs 20 crore from bar owners to make a policy favourable to them and demanded the resignation of Minister Rajesh.

Brushing aside the allegations and the opposition’s demand, Rajesh said the state government has not yet held any deliberations regarding its liquor policy.

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