PATNA: With the Bihar government’s call for suggestions and feedback from the public on the controversial total prohibition law having drawn over 1,100 responses so far, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is set to hold face-to-face discussions with 50 selected responders on Monday.
Speculation is rife that Kumar could convene an all-party meeting after holding discussions with the responders. “If the responders speak overwhelmingly in favour of the prohibition law, the CM may urge the Opposition parties to support the law in the interests of the state’s people. If the responders are found resentful of the strict provisions of this law, the CM may decide to amend the law in the upcoming winter session of the Assembly,” said a source in the ruling JD(U).
The state’s excise department had put out advertisements in newspapers on November 1 seeking public feedback on the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, which has draconian provisions like the arrest of all adult members of a family in the event of liquor being found in their house and sending people found drinking to jail for ten years. Feedback was sought after a wave of criticism from Opposition parties and the liquor lobby.
“More than 1,100 suggestions have been received till the deadline of November 12. As many as 542 suggestions came by SMS, 511 by email and 21 through postal services,” said a senior official of the excise department. “We have already invited the 55 selected responders to attend a face-to-face discussion with the chief minister,” he added.
Nitish Kumar has been passionately defending the prohibition law in his speeches in his ongoing statewide ‘Nischay yatra’ (Tour of Resolve). Discussions with the 50 responders scheduled for Monday would be the first occasion when Kumar would hold direct discussions with members of the public.
The invited responders include social activists, doctors, lawyers and doctors, and they are from both sides of the opinion barrier, said excise department officials. The government has also invited renowned surgeon Dr AA Hai and lawyer Narendra Sinha to attend the CM’s discussions, they added.