FULFILLING HIS poll promise, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday announced a liquor ban in Bihar with effect from April 1 next year.
“My government is committed to fulfilling promises made to women during the election campaign. There was a surge of complaints from women about male members of the family resorting to drinking and creating nuisance, which also affected the education of their children. Though the excise department can earn Rs 4,000 cr per year (from liquor sale), we have to think in terms of public interest and take this decision,” said Nitish, speaking at a function of the excise and prohibition department.
The CM said the poor were the worst affected. “I hope such families are able to save money and spend it on the education and nutrition of their children,” he said.
“Since Nitish Kumar had promised a liquor ban during the poll campaign, we are bound to fulfil it. We are working out a new policy to put the ban into effect,” said Excise Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan, who could not attend today’s meeting.
Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh has been instructed to formulate a new liquor policy to implement the ban.
Asked how the government would compensate for the huge excise loss, Mastan said: “In a welfare state, the government’s job is to think about the people. There was a growing chorus demanding a liquor ban from women and rural areas. We will look for alternative ways, including ethanol production, to generate revenue.”
Nitish’s pre-poll promise to impose prohibition was a part of his efforts to cultivate women as a “caste-neutral” constituency, which included welfare schemes like 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat bodies and bicycle schemes for school girls. The recent assembly elections saw a huge turnout of women voters.
“Prohibition can work in Bihar just as it has worked in Gujarat. We had made this commitment to people and we are going to fulfill it,” said JD(U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi.
“If GST comes into effect, Bihar will generate a good amount of revenue. On the socio-political front, it is true that drinking habits had been affecting the poor in Bihar and we had to find a way to stop it,” said RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha.