Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran has drafted Congress-led UDF-ruled local bodies for building up a massive anti-liquor platform in an attempt to take the campaign to its next stage by getting them involved in the process.
Mr. Sudheeran had got the KPCC executive committee meeting held here a couple of weeks ago to agree to his anti-liquor campaign. He had also confronted the government on the issue of giving permits to 418 liquor bars found to be substandard. Apparently, he has not waited for the settlement of bar licence issue to move ahead with his plans for his anti-liquor campaign which would focus on abstinence and compressing the availability of the brew.
In a letter to presiding officers of local bodies and UDF functionaries at the grassroots level here on Tuesday, Mr. Sudheeran asked them to launch awareness campaigns from the grama sabha and ward council levels to be later elevated to the panchayats and municipalities. He wanted the Mandalam, Block and District Committees of the Congress to organise similar anti-liquor campaigns.
Reiterating his earlier stand, Mr. Sudheeran wanted the local bodies ruled by the UDF to strictly enforce his earlier directions to reject applications for opening new bars and liquor outlets. He also directed the presiding officers to conduct quarterly reviews of the programmes organised to achieve the target of reducing the consumption of liquor.
Outlining his dream of establishing a massive anti-liquor movement, Mr. Sudheeran said the objectives could not be achieved without the support of political parties, youth and student organisations, government employees’ and teachers organisations, voluntary bodies, spiritual and religious outfits, not to mention local bodies and the State government. Emphasising on the need for pushing for abstinence, Mr. Sudheeran said the number of youngsters taking to the bottle in the below 21 age group had gone up to a staggering 18 per cent in 2010 from 2 per cent in 1990.
Pointing out that it was the responsibility of the local bodies to organise awareness campaigns under the scheme of devolution of powers, Mr. Sudheeran exhorted them to take the leadership of the campaign.