The cash-starved Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government in Madhya Pradesh has hit a fresh roadblock with its proposed excide policy with several within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state opposing the move.
In a bid to rake up revenue, the government was planning to sell alcohol online and hike the numbers of liquor vends. The move was also meant to counter the menace of sale of spurious liquor, a major challenge for the authorities, especially after the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Former chief minister Uma Bharti, a known detractor of Chouhan, recently announced she would launch a campaign to ban liquor in the state. While appreciating the government’s proposal to open fresh liquor vends, Bharti, who is sulking for being sidelined in the party, said she would begin her campaign on International Women’s Day — March 8.
“Revenue loss due to liquor ban could be made up through other sources, but liquor-led incidents like rape, murder and accidents are a blot on Indian society,” said Bharti.
“No one died due to unavailability of liquor and this was evident during the lockdown,” the BJP leader added.
Soon after, Chouhan postponed implementation of the news policy and allocation of contracts till July 2021.
“We also support a campaign to ban liquor and make MP alcohol-free,” Chouhan recently said in a public meeting.
In the same breath, he, however, added that if there are consumers, liquor will continue to be supplied.
The Congress has also openly supported Bharti’s proposed campaign. “We support Uma Bharti seeking a ban on liquor in Madhya Pradesh,” said former Congress minister PC Sharma. However, the policy was originally mooted during the previous Congress government, led by Kamal Nath.
Analysts, however, said the BJP government’s flip flop on the excise policy was due to the upcoming civic body polls as the move could have a negative impact on the party’s performance. The elections are expected to get over by early July.