Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala’s Congress-led United Democratic Front has sought to cash in on the ambiguity in the opposition stand on the phased prohibition now in force in the state by promising a ”liquor-free Kerala” in 10 years.

The UDF has made its position clear in its election manifesto. Unveiling the manifesto here on Wednesday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said his government’s current policy allowing bars in five-star hotels will be amended to prevent the misuse of the provision by upgrading existing hotels to five-star category.

He said that the UDF will also tighten norms for granting bar license to new five star hotels. The clarification is in the light of a raging controversy over the government’s recent decision to grant bar license to six new five star hotels.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V M Sudheeran, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader P K Kunhalikutty and many other senior leaders opposed it in an urgent meeting of the UDF held before releasing the manifesto.

 They argued that it the decision taken in the midst of the election would deprive the UDF the advantage it anticipates from its phased prohibition policy especially in the light of the refusal by the LDF to categorically state its position on the status of over 700 hotels closed by their government in 2014. The LDF manifesto released on Tuesday did not make their stand clear on the closed bars even though it stated that it will launch a mission on the lines of the literacy movement to free the people from the clutches of alcohol.  LDF convenor Vaikom Viswam, who released the manifesto, evaded the question stating that no bars have been closed in the state.

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