The Madhya Pradesh government’s new excise policy for the financial year 2022-23, which allows the sale of liquor at all airports in the state and select supermarkets in four big cities, has come into effect on Friday.
With the implementation of the new excise policy, alcohol will now be cheaper in Madhya Pradesh as the state government has announced to slash retail prices of liquor by 20 per cent. Besides, a home bar licence will also be issued at an annual fee of Rs 50,000 to applicants having an annual individual income of Rs 1 crore or more.
However, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government’s decision has come under severe criticism from the opposition Congress, as well as some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders including former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti.
With the price slashed — a first in almost a decade — the Madhya Pradesh government implemented the new excise policy claiming it will help to prevent smuggling from neighbouring states and bring down the sale of illicit liquor, which has led to numerous deaths in the state in 2021.
Senior BJP leader Bharti, who has been vocal against liquor trade and has been campaigning against it, has opposed the new excise policy.
“Today, we have implemented a new liquor policy in Madhya Pradesh. The new rules aim to ensure more alcohol is available to people and more liquor is served at liquor shops. The rules are being opposed by the women of the state,” she said.
In another tweet, Bharti said: “I am with the women and daughters of Madhya Pradesh. I am also concerned for the sons who have become victims of alcohol abuse. I am ashamed that we are earning revenue by playing with their honour and life.”
The state Congress leaders took a sarcastic jibe while congratulating the BJP-led state government for implementing the new excise policy.
Madhya Pradesh Congress General Secretary (media), K.K. Mishra took a jibe at Bharti spelling ‘Madya Pradesh’ (‘madya’ means madira or liquor) instead of Madhya Pradesh.
“Congratulations Uma ji. Today onwards, milk and medicines are expensive, alcohol is cheaper in Madya Pradesh,” Mishra tweeted.
It was, however, surprising that some BJP leaders too are opposing establishment of new liquor shops in their respective constituencies.
BJP leaders such as Krishna Gaur, the daughter-in-law of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur, have opposed opening of new liquor shops in the state.
Gaur, a BJP legislator from Govindpura seat in Bhopal district, stood in support of women from her constituency to oppose a new liquor shop opened in Barkhera Pathani area, the locality where Uma Bharti two weeks ago had smashed a liquor shop.
However, the new liquor shop in Barkhera Pathani area is being opened by a person who is said to be close to the BJP.
The new liquor shop was intended to operate from April 1, but a large number of women sat on a protest at the site since Thursday evening.
Another BJP legislator K.P. Tripathi protested against opening of a new liquor shop in Rewa district. Though, Tripathi is an MLA from Semariya (an Assembly constituency in Rewa district), he protested against it in Rewa as the new liquor shop belongs to a local Congress leader Abhay Mishra.