A day after Kerala announced its decision to impose total prohibition, a group of housewives marched into the room of chief minister Oommen Chandy. It was not a protest but a thanksgiving — many said they couldn’t believe the state would be dry soon.
For the highest liquor-consuming state (per capita consumption here is 8.5 litres, 3% higher than the national average) the news is yet to sink in.
At some places women celebrated on the streets. Cardinal Mar Cleemis contributed Rs 1 lakh to the newly announced scheme ‘Punerjani’ (Rebirth) meant to rehabilitate victims of alcohol abuse. But tipplers aren’t moved. As usual, long queues were visible outside the government-owned Beverages Corporation outlets. Capping the bottle is no solution, they argued.
“Old habits die hard. If it is available on Mars we won’t mind going there,” said a cabbie, who came out after gulping his morning quota.
“Ban is no solution. Socially speaking, it will affect backward Ezhavas badly,” said senior leader Vakkom Purushothaman. He even blamed the Muslim League, one of the partners of the ruling UDF, for forcing a hasty decision on the government.
Babus are also upset — a total ban will cause a loss of Rs 9,000 crore a year, after Gulf remittances, it is a major revenue for the state.
The state’s booming hospitality industry is also upset. “Most of the tourists relax in the evening with a glass. No doubt it will affect our industry,” lamented a tour operator.
Spirited talk is everywhere. Some even cite Gujarat-model and middle-east to buttress their point that total prohibition is difficult.