Asking Uttar Pradesh to follow his state’s footsteps in banning liquor, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Sunday expressed worry that his efforts in ensuring a complete ban is being diminished by his UP counterpart’s approach.
Addressing a convention organised by the women’s wing of Kisan Manch in Lucknow, Nitish said people in Bihar are “very happy” with the ban on liquor.
“But the problem is arising at the districts in UP that border Bihar. Number of liquor shops in these districts have increased since the ban. I have been informed that the UP government has also increased the base price (called licence fee in UP) of a foreign liquor shop in Ahiraulidan (Kushinagar district) from Rs 85,000 to Rs 30 lakh. This means that the shop owner will now sell more liquor,” Nitish said. Kushinagar borders Gopalganj district of Bihar.
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The Bihar CM also cited Rampur Bujurg and Chamki Bazar areas of Deoria district, bordering Bihar’s Siwan, where the UP government has reportedly hiked the base price to Rs 20.75 lakh from the existing Rs 6.25 lakh.
“While Bihar has banned liquor, you are trying to make profit and increase your revenue,” Kumar said, pointing fingers at the Akhilesh Yadav-led government.
He rued that Akhilesh and Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das (of BJP) “did not even acknowledge” receiving his letter requesting strict vigil at Bihar-bordering districts in their respective states to ensure that the number of liquor shops does not increase and people of Bihar do not cross border to consume liquor.
“The Chief Secretary too wrote to his UP counterpart requesting to ensure that liquor shops are not opened in at least 5-km range of Bihar-bordering districts,” Nitish said, adding no reply was received there either.
Nitish clarified that he had not come to Lucknow to “target anyone” but for a social cause to push for a “change”.
“I have come to the land of UP to narrate Bihar’s success story. Do not worry, Akhilesh ji. You impose the ban on liquor and the public will be happy,” he said.
He suggested that the Akhilesh government send a team of officers to assess the effect the liquor ban had on the life of people in Bihar, “specially women”. “If you admire Ram Manohar Lohia, then you too will do some work. Ban the liquor in your state,” Nitish told the UP CM.
The JD(U) president wondered “how long” UP will be able to keep itself away from banning liquor when other states have started responding to agitations by people in favour of the ban. He said political parties in five states that have undergone elections have promised banning liquor upon coming to power.
He responded to the protest staged by Lucknow Liquor Association against his visit, saying, “Those complaining that liquor ban will create unemployment, I suggest them to start selling milk instead.” About the suggested loss to the state exchequer, he said the public will spend the money saved on other goods, which will ultimately generate revenue for the state in the form of tax. He argued that the consumption of liquor was “not a constitutional right”.
He said in Bihar, the MLAs, MLCs, officials from Chief Secretary to the rank of clerks, and DGP to the constables – “all have taken oath not to consume liquor”. He said the thinking of people in the two states is “similar” and that he feels that people in UP want the ban too.
He asked the Kisan Manch workers to begin a movement starting with the villages and “force the government” to consider banning liquor. “Women should announce that they will not support (political parties) in the election if the ban on liquor is not imposed,” Nitish told the gathering.
JD(U) secretary general K C Tyagi, who accompanied the Bihar CM, said the ban is “a social issue”, which aims to “protect women from molestation and harassment”. He too said that the JD(U) was merely doing its bit by taking part in the anti-liquor campaign and was “not targeting any political party or any government.”
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Samajwadi party hits back: Bihar on boil with crime but its leaders raising liquor ban
The Samajwadi Party Sunday slammed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for alleging that the Akhilesh government was “not cooperating” with the implementation of liquor ban in Bihar districts that share borders with UP. In a statement, party spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said: “When Bihar is on the boil because of incidents of crime and people are feeling unsafe, leaders from Bihar come to UP and raise issues like liquor ban and Grand Alliance.” Citing the incident where a journalist (Hindi daily Hindustan’s Siwan bureau chief Rajdeo Ranjan) was shot dead in Bihar, he claimed an MP of Bihar’s ruling party, JD(U), has alleged that there was ‘jungle raj’ in the state. “Several people have died in Bihar following consumption of hooch despite the ban on liquor. The people of UP will not be confused by leaders who come to preach here and ignore problems in their own state… Those who talk about Grand Alliance… have become active in UP with an eye on polls… Such acts will strengthen communal forces,” said Chaudhary.