‘Alcohol not harmful, even...’: Gujarat AAP candidate's remarks draw criticism
The comments sparked outrage, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding an apology from him for "defaming" Gujarat and encouraging alcohol usage.
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gears up for the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, one of its candidates Jagmal Vala mired a controversy on Wednesday by claiming that consuming alcohol is not “harmful” and that it is consumed across the world, while it's banned in Gujarat. “Even prominent physicians, IAS and IPS officers consumer liquor while cautioning people not to become hooked to it," Vala was quoted by news agency PTI.
“There are 196 countries in the world with 800 crore people. In all these 196 countries, there is the freedom to consume alcohol. India alone has a population of 130-140 crore, and there is freedom in the whole nation to consume alcohol,” Vala said.
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“It is only in Gujarat, with a population of 6.5 crore, where alcohol is prohibited. This proves that alcohol is not bad. But alcohol consumes us. It is for us to consume alcohol. If we consume it, then it is not bad. But the only problem is that alcohol consumes us. Otherwise, drink if you have the guts," he further said.
Vala, the AAP’s candidate for the Somnath assembly seat in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district, made the statement at a public rally.
The comments sparked outrage, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding an apology from him for "defaming" Gujarat and encouraging alcohol usage. BJP spokesperson Yagnesh Dave took a swipe at AAP's chief Arvind Kejriwal, and said, "What can you expect from someone whose head in Delhi provides copious amounts of alcohol and whose leader destroys a political party's office and abuses ladies while drunk?"
Dave was referring to the AAP workers’ protest at the state BJP headquarters and the Delhi government’s controversial liquor policy.
The BJP leader said Vala was defaming Gujarat by talking about lifting liquor prohibition and asking people to consume as much alcohol as they can.
Vala defended himself by claiming that he never asked people to drink alcohol. “People consume liquor in large quantities in Gujarat despite prohibition. If we give them freedom, then we will get tax money (revenue) and people do not have to pay more for the liquor,” he said.
(With inputs from agency)