After taking on the ruling partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the issue of drugs in Punjab, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now look to curtail proliferation of liquor in the state with the party’s national vice president and Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Rai Khanna writing to the Chief Minister on the issue.
What makes the situation more embarrassing for SAD is the fact that a BJP leader and Assistant Media Advisor to the state government, Vineet Joshi, too is a signatory to this letter which urges the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, to regulate the sale of liquor at vends across the state in a bid to restrict its availability and ‘uninhibited’ flow.
The BJP leaders have sought the intervention of the CM to fix the timing of sale of liquor at the vends from 12 noon to 7 pm during the day. In the letter to the CM, the two leaders have stressed upon the growing public sentiment in support of regulating the sale of liquor.
Khanna said he was surprised to see liquor vends open as early as 5 am in the state when even milk shops are still to open for the day. “Often when I travel from the Phagwara railway station, I see the liquor vends operational at 6 am. It is flocked by labourers and rickshaw pullers,” Khanna wrote in his letter to CM.
Besides, fixing the timing of liquor vends and taverns, the saffron party leaders have also urged the government to close liquor vends where even local residents are opposing its set up.
The demand put forth by the BJP finds its genesis in suggestions that have cropped up during the 17 anti-drug programs- including round table conferences involving society leaders held across Punjab and Chandigarh to understand the solution of drug menace- held under the aegis of Joshi Foundation in the last six months.
Curtailing the timings of the liquor vends, the leaders said, will send a strong message to the public that the government is serious to control the epidemic of drugs and liquor in Punjab.
Vineet Joshi said,”De-addiction experts consider liquor as gateway drug to synthetic drugs. During sessions and round table conferences we discussed ways and methods to curb the proliferating disease of addiction of drugs and along with many suggestions, most of them suggested curbing the round the clock easy availability of less costly liquor in the neighborhood.”
Some liquor shops, they stressed, have been seen operating round the clock as their salesmen are available all the time. “Regulating the sale of liquor will come as a relief for the public and send a strong message that the government serious about tackling drug menace,” they added.