October 01, 2020

RJD denies liquor U-turn

Patna: As Bihar celebrates – if that is the word – two years of prohibition, there remains a question mark on what the state’s main Opposition party’s stand on the dry law is.

Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh had declared that his party would repeal the draconian law if it comes to power. However, leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday spoke about the party being in favour of “softening” the law.

Rajya Sabha MP and RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha denied there was confusion in the party over prohibition.

“There has been no U-turn. As an important constituent of the Grand Alliance government in Bihar, we agreed to total prohibition because we had seen how Nitish ji’s previous regime with the BJP had destroyed the social fabric and life in Bihar by making liquor available even in the remotest village,” Jha said. “However, the spirit of law is seen in the execution and that has thrown thousands of scary images in the public domain. While the RJD supports prohibition, it can’t allow the law to become a weapon of attack against the poor predominantly drawn from the lower castes.”

Party sources indicate that even when in the Grand Alliance, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had aired strong opposition against the stringent provisions of the prohibition law.

“But Nitish was unrelenting and Lalu ji did not want to disturb the government on the issue as the RJD had strongly opposed opening of liquor outlets in the remote villages of Bihar during the NDA1 regime,” an RJD leader said.

There have, however, been charges of RJD leaders patronising the liquor mafia. Asked, RJD leaders point out that during their party’s regime the excise revenue was around Rs 300 crore, and it was pushed to around Rs 4,000 crore during the NDA 1 regime. “If anyone is to blame for rise in liquor consumption in Bihar it is Nitish Kumar,” said Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

The BJP, when it was in the Opposition, was at the forefront of attacking draconian provisions in the law and spoke about the downtrodden being the main victims. The RJD had remained silent. Now, the roles have reversed.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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