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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Explained: Is prohibition a Bihar poll issue?

The prohibition move was received very well initially but fizzled out in less than a year with the police unable to stop the import of liquor from neighbouring UP, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Nepal.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Updated: November 3, 2020 4:22:08 pm
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar addressing an alcohol prohibition day function in Patna. (File/PTI Photo)

Though Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar now discusses the liquor ban once in a while during his meetings, it was his main political plank when he had been a part of the UPA. He brought about a total liquor ban in April 2016 and looked to cater to his bigger constituency of women, several of whom had complained about domestic violence by their husbands under the influence of liquor.

The move was received very well initially but fizzled out in less than a year with the police unable to stop the import of liquor from neighbouring UP, West Bengal, Jharkhand and also Nepal as eight Bihar districts adjoin the Himalayan country. Prohibition is hardly an issue in this election.

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Nitish Kumar tries to cater to the women vote bank by talking about liquor but he is greeted with complaints of failure of prohibition and several women groups narrating how their husbands buy sub-standard liquor at thrice the price.

So far, over 2.7 lakh people have been arrested under the law, though most of them are out on bail. The state government has already softened sterner sections of the law such as arresting all majors of the family if one is arrested for consuming, selling or storing liquor among others. Self-help groups still try to portray prohibition as an election issue but it is not cutting much ice in these polls. The seizure of 10 lakh litres of liquor in last three months tells the reality of prohibition.

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