PATNA: Giving a further push to his ongoing exercise of statewide total prohibition amid criticism about the law being draconian, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday asked people to choose between consuming liquor and living in Bihar.
“No matter what reasons some people present, like defending liquor on medical grounds, no excuse will work here. If you cannot live in Bihar without consuming alcohol, then what is the need to live in Bihar?” asked the JD(U) stalwart in his address to a function organised to mark Prohibition Day in the state.
Kumar, who convened an all-party meeting to discuss certain controversial penal provisions in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 earlier this week, asserted that the prohibition law would not be rolled back. In an impassioned speech interspersed with his characteristic phraseology to inspire the people, he asserted prohibition would remain in force in Bihar.
“If you have to drink, drink something that is worth drinking. Why drink something useless? Does it (liquor) have any advantage? The decision to impose prohibition is a determined one. There is no chance of any compromise in it,” said Kumar as top bureaucrats and the audience applauded.
He, however, indicated that certain penal provisions in the prohibition law that have been widely dubbed as draconian may be made less strict. “We have taken everyone’s views on objections to certain penal provisions. If necessary, we may bring them to the state legislature, but prohibition is to stay,” said Kumar.
The CM, who had been calling for nationwide prohibition, also said he had asked excise and police officials to find out what vocation former liquor traders and smugglers are in these days. Most of those being caught for violation the prohibition law are those previously engaged in the trade, he said. “They should take up the many alternative services the government has facilitated for them,” he added.
November 26 started being observed as Prohibition Day in Bihar since 2011 on Kumar’s initiative. The CM said his government made considerable efforts since 2011 to create a social atmosphere conducive to prohibition. Awareness marches were taken out by school students in every district of Bihar.
“It (prohibition) has been implemented on the basis of the people’s support. The law has its own power and its own role, but nothing can be implemented only by the law,” said Kumar.