Bihar Congress leader urges Nitish to scrap prohibition laws

Ajit Sharma has alleged that liquor is available at a price two-three times higher than the original price

After the National Family Health Survey-5 recently reported that in ‘dry’ Bihar, people are consuming more liquor than other States such as Maharashtra, State Congress Legislature Party leader Ajit Sharma on Wednesday wrote a letter to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanding that prohibition laws be scrapped.

In his letter, Mr. Sharma, Congress MLA from Bhagalpur, said prohibition, which was imposed in 2016, in fact, had never been fully implemented on the ground. He alleged that liquor had been available at a price two-three times higher than the original price. Liquor ban in the State had become a tool to mint money for those involved in the illegal trade of it, he charged in the letter.

“There is a nexus of police, bureaucrats and liquor mafia for funnelling liquor bottles in the State from outside. The State government has been facing a revenue loss to the tune of ₹4,000-5000 crore annually because of this,” Mr. Sharma said. “If prohibition has to be imposed it should be implemented strictly. Otherwise, the ban be lifted and the revenue which the State government would earn could be used to set up industries and provide employment,” he wrote.

‘Revolutionary decision’

However, NDA leaders slammed Mr. Sharma for writing such a letter demanding that prohibition laws be scrapped. “Prohibition was a revolutionary decision of the NDA government which brought peace and tranquillity in villages. It also curbed crime against women and empowered women in Bihar. There is no question of lifting ban on prohibition,” said JD(U) leader and spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan.

BJP MLC and party spokesperson Sanjay Mayunkh too echoed the same. “Prohibition was a conscious decision of NDA led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and it will not be scrapped, let the Congress leaders write such letters to the Chief Minister.”

Recently, the National Family Health Survey-5 had reported that in Bihar 15.5 % men and 0.4% women above 15 years still consume alcohol, which is higher than States like Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir where only 13.9 and 8.8% men consume alcohol.

Earlier, Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari too had taken a jibe over the issue and said that “now after this national sample survey, the Bihar government should make a rethink over prohibition. The national survey has substantiated what our party leaders have been saying for a long time that liquor is home–delivered in the State.”

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