Bihar goes ‘dry’, sale of liquor banned (Roundup)

Patna, April 5 (IANS) In a historic move, the Nitish Kumar government on Tuesday imposed a complete ban on sale of any kind of liquor in Bihar, making it the fourth dry state of the country after after Nagaland, Manipur and Gujarat.

“Liquor will not be sold in any bar, pub or hotel from now onwards. We are placing a complete ban on its sale in the state. Women and kids have created an environment in favour of this ban,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters here.

“The ban will be in place with immediate effect, and the government will issue a notification in this regard in some time. Only the army cantonments which are run with their own rules will continue to have liquor served,” the Janata Dal-United JD(U) leader added.

Banning the sale of liquor was one of the main poll promises of the Grand Alliance in the Bihar assembly elections. Experts say the ban would cost the state government a whopping Rs.4,000 crore in revenue annually.

The state assembly last week passed a law banning sale of country-made liquor, but the chief minister announced that a ban would be in place on sale of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor too.

Deputy Chief Minister Tejashvi Yadav, of the RJD, told IANS: “This will prove to be a revolutionary step towards social equality, justice and change in the state.”

“We have taken this step keeping in mind the emotions of poor people, women, and children. It will benefit them a lot,” Yadav said.

JD-U MP K.C. Tyagi told IANS that it was a big challenge to ban liquor in the state, but the government will do everything to ensure it works. “We are committed to ensuring a complete ban on liquor in the state.”

“A Rs.4,000 crore loss is a no small thing, but we had promised to work for women empowerment and ban liquor in our election manifesto, and we took this step. It is very challenging but at the same time very important too,” Tyagi told IANS.

Asked how the government would ensure that no liquor is sold in the state, Tyagi said:

“We have a fool-proof blue print ready to implement this law across the state. There is provision for stringent action against those who do not comply with the rules. We have made special arrangements at the border areas to prevent smuggling of liquor.”

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a partner in the Bihar government, was quick to praise the chief minister for the bold step. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that it was their pressure that compelled Nitish Kumar to enforce the law.

“The government had promised its people, especially women, to ban liquor. And in a very short span of time, it has translated that commitment into reality,” RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha told IANS. “What we promised, we delivered in a short time.”

Bihar BJP president Mangal Pandey said: “We welcome the Bihar government’s decision to ban all kinds of liquor in the state. The BJP had been regularly demanding a complete ban on all kinds of liquor in the state, which the Bihar government had earlier announced only on country made liquor,” BJP state president Mangal Pandey told IANS.

The party claimed the Bihar government “bowed to its pressure”.

“The BJP along with allies had been pressurising the government to announce a complete ban on liquor sale, and today (Tuesday), the government has bowed to ours’ and the people’s pressure,” Pandey added.

Former Bihar deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi took to Twitter and wrote: “BJP and media compelled Nitish Kumar to declare total prohibition. BJP supports this decision of the government.”

Bihar has a very high number of alcoholics, especially in rural areas, where the poor spend a large part of their income on country liquor, leading to rise in domestic violence. On April 1, after the Bihar government banned country-made liquor, women across the state welcomed the move, splashing colours on each other and dancing to music.

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