Kerala civic body chief loses job for okaying bar

KPM Basheer Kochi | Updated on June 05, 2014 Published on June 05, 2014

Muslim League ousts municipal chairperson for flouting party stand

As the logjam within the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front over the closure of 418 bars continue, the chairperson of the Kanhangad municipality has been forced to quit following the NOC given by her municipal council for opening a bar.

Haseena Thajudheen was asked by her party, the Indian Union Muslim League, a coalition partner in the UDF, to abdicate even as the party has taken disciplinary action against ten other party councillors for their role in giving no-objection certificate to the bar.

Thajudheen told Business Line that she would continue as a councillor though she had resigned as chairperson on her party’s instruction.

According to a Kerala law, bars or liquor shops need to secure a no-objection certificate from the local self-government institution. Panchayats and municipalities can say no to a bar or liquor shop to function in their territories.

The law, made by the UDF government to honour its pre-Assembly-election commitment, is aimed to curtail drinking in the State, which has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the country. Very few bars and liquor outlets have been opened in the State in the past three years of UDF rule.

Bar closure

The IUML’s strong step comes in the wake of the raging controversy over the closure of more than half of the bars in the State since March 31.

The government had, ahead of the April 10 Lok Sabha elections in the State, refused to renew the annual licence of bars with two-star rating and below on the grounds that they were substandard. (The licence costs a whopping ₹ 23 lakh).

The measure, a sop to the anti-liquor campaign, especially of the Catholic Church, during the election time, was considered temporary.

Contentious issue

However, the issue took big turn in the Congress with State Congress president VM Sudheeran, an anti-liquor campaigner, stalling the reopening of the bars while Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and most of the Congress ministers and party leaders favouring a conditional reopening.

The IUML, which has the second largest number of MLAs in the UDF coalition, wants the government not to allow the bars to reopen. The Kerala High Court, on a petition, has given the government a month’s time to decide.

It was against this backdrop that the Kanhangad municipality, headed by the IUML, gave the go-ahead to a new bar. The party was shocked as the approval was counter to its public posturing on alcohol consumption. The result: Haseena Thajudeen, one of the few Muslim women to hold such a position, lost her job.

Published on June 05, 2014
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor