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Liquor ban in Bihar: Nitish Kumar’s poll promise to women comes at a high cost

Though there is no clarity so far on whether Nitish KUmar is looking at a partial or complete liquor ban, the CM has lived up to his promise.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
Updated: November 27, 2015 6:25:39 pm
Bihar, Bihar liquor, Bihar elections, Bihar assembly polls, Nitish Kumar, Nitish kumar liquor ban, Nitish Bihar liqour ban, no liquor in Bihar, liquor free bihar, nitish oath, liquor ban, ban on liquor, ban on liquor in Bihar, bihar latest news Nitish Kumar had made a poll promise in July that if voted back to power, he would ban liquor in the state.

When the first phase of the Bihar assembly polls made it clear that women had outvoted men, political pundits looked into the reasons for it. As the trend continued till the fifth and final phase, one common conclusion was the awareness among women that there was a safe atmosphere for voting post EVM days and more importantly, post the days of booth-capturing in the 1990s when women preferred to stay at home and let hoodlums proxy-vote for them.

Another reason was Nitish Kumar being able to create a constituency – a caste neutral one – among women in an otherwise casteist Bihar. Bicycle scheme for girls, 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayats, a gender budget and several women-centric moves have earned Nitish Kumar instant popularity.

WATCH VIDEO: “Mixed reactions over liquor ban in Bihar”

When Nitish Kumar started to campaign for the 2015 assembly polls, rural women had a common complaint: the availability of liquor shops in villages and their menfolk spending much of their earnings on liquor and thereafter creating problems at home. Nitish listened to the growing chorus against his liberal liquor policy; as CM he also knew that liquor earned the state exchequer approximately Rs 3,500-4,000 cr annually, it was the highest earner for the cash-starved state.

Nitish had to take a call which was much driven as much by political considerations as social considerations. Nitish made a poll promise in July that if voted back to power, he would ban liquor in the state. Now that Nitish is back in the saddle, he had to do it or else he would have faced BJP criticism.

Though there is no clarity so far on whether Nitish is looking at a partial or complete liquor ban, the CM has lived up to his promise. Now the CM will have to find ways to deal with apprehensions of illegal manufacturing of liquor and its illegal sale from adjoining states into Bihar.

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