Liquor distributors and traders in Madhya Pradesh on Friday hailed scrapping of ban on Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Bihar by Patna high court, hoping the judgement will stem the growing clamour for prohibition in the state.
Soon after Nitish Kumar government enforced prohibition in Bihar, many political leaders in the state called for similar ban in Madhya Pradesh and hinted that it would become a major issue in the 2018 assembly elections.
Nitish Kumar was also invited to push his prohibition agenda in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh by launching an anti-liquor cycle yatra from Barwani district on September 16.
The yatra, held under the banner of the National Alliance of People’s Movement, was backed by former Samajwadi Party MLA Dr Sunilam and Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar.
Indore-based liquor distributor Jagjit Singh Bhatia welcomed the Patna high court’s decision saying it would have a positive ramification in the state.
“People have been consuming liquor since ages. Prohibition has failed wherever it has been imposed. Such ban spikes consumption of illicit liquor and drugs. Apart from that state also loses out on revenue,” Bhatia said.
The state government earns an annual revenue of Rs 7500 crore from liquor sales. Sources said the government was unlikely to forgo the revenue given the state’s precarious financial condition. MP’s debt has surged to 1,38,000 in March 2016 from around Rs 1,10,000 crore in March 2015.
The ruling party has so far been dismissive of the anti-liquor campaign in the state. BJP’s Madhya Pradesh media in-charge Lokendra Parashar said, “Prohibition can’t be enforced through fear of law. Such move sometimes even leads to hooch tragedies. A better way is to create awareness against liquor consumption. The BJP government has already taken some decisions like not issuing permit to open new liquor shops.”