Disgruntled tipplers in God’s Own Country are set to take on the government over the ‘shoddy treatment’ meted out to them, and may even contest assembly elections if the state continues to ignore their demands.
Bibulous people in Kerala say the United Democratic Front (UDF) government’s 2014 decision to shut down bars — except those in five-star hotels — and reduce the number of retail liquor stores has hit them hard. Kerala Liquor Consumers’ Protection Forum, which is working to set up a platform to bring together the at least six groups fighting to defend tipplers’ rights, said the state earns Rs 10,000 crore from alcohol sale, yet it treats consumers like criminals.
“In Kerala, about 60% of the state’s revenue comes from liquor sale. The government is slapping at least 250% tax on every bottle. Most of the outlets are situated at dingy places and consumers are forced to queue up before them like criminals,” said forum convener M Damodharan.
“Nowhere in the world does such a system exist. Like any other consumer, they should be afforded some dignity. The government runs on their money but gives them shoddy treatment. It should end,” said writer Paul Zacaria. Looking to take the fight to the government, the forum has held district-level meets across the state to enrol one lakh members in two months. A state-wide convention will be held to chalk out its strategy once that target is achieved.