The Kerala cabinet on Wednesday approved the new liquor policy, which seeks to make the state alcohol-free in a phased manner over a decade. Accordingly, the 418 bars that were closed for “want of adequate facilities” will remain shut and the 312 other bar hotels will also be closed, leaving only the 20-odd five star hotels to serve liquor.
While explaining the cabinet decisions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, did not provide a clear picture on the future of beer and wine parlours and their licences. The policy aiming at prohibition has caused tension within the ruling Congress party, with the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V.M. Sudheeran, who piloted the idea, coming under indirect attack from leaders of the ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions in the party. Responding to reports that Chandy himself had complained against Sudheeran, the chief minister said the reports were false.
Reacting to the internal bickering in the Congress, former federal defence minister A.K. Antony said it was a “storm in a teacup” and that there were no problems within the Congress unit in the state that could not be solved locally.
Meanwhile, the no-alcohol policy of the government topped the conversation trends among Keralites on social media. Most of them targeted Sudheeran, who has been the prime advocate for prohibition in Kerala.
One cartoon that satirises the issue, features an open letter from a housewife thanking the chief minister in which she says her abusive husband came home on all fours as usual, threw the pots and pans around, pulled her hair and soundly slapped her. And when she was expecting the regular kick as well, he said, ‘I’m stopping the abuse, too, in a phased manner’.
One social media post depicts a woman telling her friends about the trouble caused to her and family by the new liquor policy: ‘He now comes home as early as 7pm, grabs the TV remote and I can’t watch my favourite sops. And then he turns to the children, attempting to tutor them and end up bashing them up’. The post goes on to reminisce the ‘good old days when he would come home late and go to bed without a whimper’.
One post shows a photo of a man all ready with a pressure cooker and other essentials for brewing spirits, with the question — ‘I’m ready to face any emergency [for the prohibition era], are you?’ Photos and drawings of brewing equipment have been trending among Keralites ever since the ruling United Democratic Front decided on shutting all bars in the state.
Yet another post says marriage proposals may now state, ‘preference for girl from Mahe [a union territory within Kerala where the state’s prohibition law will not apply]”.