Bihar celebrates foundation day with government, Opposition sparring over gains from prohibition

Kumar inaugurated the main celebrations of Bihar Diwas at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna

Published: 23rd March 2017 12:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2017 12:37 AM   |  A+A-

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (File | PTI)

Express News Service

PATNA: As three-day-long celebrations of Bihar’s 105th foundation day began in the State on Wednesday with prohibition as the theme, the Opposition BJP and its allies questioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s oft-repeated claims that prohibition led to drastic fall in crime rate in the State.

Kumar, who inaugurated the main celebrations of Bihar Diwas at the historic Gandhi Maidan in Patna in the evening, proudly listed the multifarious benefits accrued from his government’s decision to implement total prohibition in the state since April 2016. He cited reduction in crime and rise in sales of food items and consumer products among the major socio-economic gains from prohibition.

Keeping in view the fact that 2017 is the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Champaran movement, Bihar’s grand alliance government, led by Kumar, decided to have prohibition as the theme of this year’s Bihar Diwas. “Gandhi had been a staunch advocate of prohibition, and it is Bihar’s way of paying tributes to the iconic leader by celebrating this Bihar Diwas with prohibition as the theme,” said Neeraj Kumar, MLC and a spokesperson of Kumar’s JD(U).

But the main Opposition BJP and its allies LJP and HAM rubbished the government’s claims of decline in crime, saying the spate of crimes witnessed in the state in recent months proves otherwise. The Opposition leaders engaged in verbal duels with leaders of the ruling alliance over crime rate even as hundreds of government-sponsored and privately organised programmes were held across the State to observe Bihar Diwas.

“Where is the fall in crime rate when every other day one finds people being murdered with guns in the state? The chief minister and his government are merely trying to justify prohibition by proffering unsubstantiated figures about crime rate,” said Nand Kishore Yadav, senior BJP leader and former minister.

According to data provided by the State government, murders fell by 22 per cent, loots by 18 per cent, robberies by 23 per cent, rioting by 33 per cent, abductions for ransom by 42 per cent and road accidents by 17 per cent in the past 11 months. The CM, ministers and government figures have attributed it to prohibition. Besides, sales of consumer products such as FMCG items, electronic goods, plastic products and sewing machines grew by 23.91 per cent, 30.88 per cent, 65.5 per cent and 4.53 per cent respectively, according to government sources.

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