Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17: Congress in Kerala was caught on the backfoot after Opposition Leader in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala left the party red-faced with his remarks that the previous UDF government's liquor policy did not have the desired results during the Assembly polls.
Chennithala in a interview to Malayalam magazine had stated that the liquor policy of the Congress-led UDF government had not benefited the Front on expected lines during the Assembly polls.
"Though we expected an overwhelming response from the people on the liquor policy, it was not so," he said. Media reports stated that Chennithala had also said that it was up to the party to decide if a change was needed in the policy.
While Chennithala, who was the Home Minister in the previous government went incommunicado after the publication of the interview, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy refused to react. KPCC President V M Sudheeran said there was no need for a reconsideration on the UDF's liquor policy as of now.
IUML, a Congress ally, said it did not believe that UDF had lost the polls due to the excise policy. However, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan wanted UDF and Congress to clarify their stand in the backdrop of Chennithala's remarks.
"Does Congress, IUML, KPCC President endorse the views of Chennithala?" he asked. The remarks by Chennithala comes at a time when there were reports that the CPI(M)-led LDF government could go for a new liquor policy as the present "restrictions on consumption of liquor have not yielded the desired positive impact".
The policy has also affected the tourism industry in the state, he said. The previous UDF government had closed down over 700 bars across the state and decided to bring in total prohibition in phases.