One of the issues that election candidates are banking on for votes in the Barmer Lok Sabha constituency is the supply of poppy husk — locally known as doda posta.
There are lakhs of doda addicts in Rajasthan, particularly in Barmer district.
Though supply and possession of opium is illegal, serving drinks made of doda posta has been a long-standing custom during ceremonies like marriages in the Marwar region.
Soliciting votes, local leaders have been promising free flow of doda to the people in Barmer.
Recently, BJP’s Barmer candidate Sonaram Choudhary also brought the issue to chief minister Raje’s notice while talking about his poll agenda during a public meeting.
“There is an acute shortage of doda… people aged between 70 and 80 years desperately need it but few have the licence for consumption,” Choudhary had told Raje at the rally. “Madam, kindly do something about the problem.”
The government has issued permits for consumption of doda to some people who have been certified as addicts by medical experts.
These addicts are allowed to purchase doda as per the quota allocated for them by medical practitioners.
According to the data available with the excise department, there are 2,817 permit holders in the district and they are getting a supply of 17,705 kg per month, but several thousands of others get their supply illegally.
Opium is also served in a social function known as Riyan. Barmer-based social activist Tejdan Charan said the opium ceremony is mainly conducted to forge a bond between two people. A government official on condition of anonymity said, “Though efforts are made to limit doda sales, riyans are being held almost daily in rural areas by politicians as part of the election campaign.”