Some politicians fade away from public life, quietly and gracefully. Some fall with a thud or are sidelined and swamped by the pace of political developments. Others manage to find spaces in various areas of public service. A few doughty ones persevere to make a comeback.
Sobhana George, three-time MLA, is on the comeback trail, making the anti-liquor campaign the route for her return to mainstream politics. She has been knocking at the doors of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) for some time, seeking accommodation in the party set-up.
A staunch Karunakaran acolyte, Ms. George was one of the few Congress leaders who stood by the late ‘Leader’ till the end.
She has had to pay the price for this loyalty even after returning to the party fold, and in spite of the changing equations in the Congress at present. Such setbacks have not prevented her from seeking out a space for herself.
“Kerala has become ‘Liquor’s own country.’ The evil of the bottle has spread across society, and even among women and youngsters. The queue before liquor shops and bars has become a trademark in Kerala,” she says.
In a recent memorandum to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Excise Minister K. Babu, Ms. George called for their proactive involvement in tackling the menace. “Why can’t the UDF government think about a total ban on IMFL, on the lines of the 1995-1996 Antony government which banned arrack,” she asked.
Ms. George is of the view that liquor sale should be regulated. For this, the time of sale of liquor should be changed. As part of its energy conservation efforts, there was a move by the Union government to restrict the sale of petrol through pumps at night. The same system should be adopted here by changing the opening and closing time of liquor shops, which may open at 2 p.m. and close at 8 p.m. Similarly, there is scope to hike bar licence fee. The current policy is to encourage liquor trade, and this should change, she says.