Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress on Thursday alleged a "secret deal" between Kerala bar owners and the ruling CPI-M after the Pinarayi Vijayan government said it is framing new rules to allow sale of liquor bottles in bars at same prices as in state-owned liquor vends.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media here soon after Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan said that apart from the 305 liquor vends, liquor bottles will be sold through bars as well and rules will be tweaked accordingly.
"This is a big corrupt deal between the CPI-M and the bar owners in adopting such a model, which has never been in practice in the state but is now in the works. Such a deal will sound the death knell of state-owned outlets. All these things are being done in the name of Covid-19," said Chennithala and asked the government to withdraw this new directive.
Kerala has 305 state-owned liquor retail vends. With the reopening of bars, another 600 outlets would be added to the count.
The bar hotels will not be allowed to serve liquor, though these can sell bottles.
Speaking to the media earlier in the day, Ramakrishnan pointed out that it is only a temporary arrangement in the wake of coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Generally, the prices of liquor served in bars is much higher than what is sold in liquor vends.
Ramakrishnan said that the state will very soon announce when the liquor vends will be opened.