An hour after the Congress-led opposition on Monday announced a state-wide protest seeking Kerala Excise Minister TP Ramakrishnan's resignation over the sanctions given to liquor businesses, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the licenses have been cancelled.
"While we are seriously involved in the rebuilding of our state, the opposition has been crying foul over a non-issue," Mr Vijayan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram after being targeted by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala for the past two weeks.
The Congress leader has been criticising the state government's sanctioning of three breweries in Kannur, Palakkad and Ernakulam and a distillery in Thrissur, the first ever since 1999.
Mr Chennithala said no rules were followed while issuing the licences to four companies.
However, Mr Vijayan said: "We gave the sanction only after completing all procedures. The opposition is raising a needless controversy. So, it has been decided to cancel the licenses given."
He also made it clear that "it does not mean, no licenses will be issued in future. We will go ahead with the policy".
After the cancellation, Mr Chennithala said that this has been one of the biggest corruption cases that the Vijayan government has been in and only after it was caught red-handed that the licences were cancelled.
"All of us saw Vijayan, last week, defending this issue. Then when more documents against the corruption surfaced, he cancelled it today.
"He knows he will be in a soup if it is not cancelled. Had we not taken this up, they would have gone ahead and even sanctioned micro breweries similar to ones in Bengaluru. This cancellation will not stop us. We will not rest till Ramakrishnan quits," said Mr Chennithala.