PATNA: After facing constant criticism from the Opposition RJD and its allies, the prohibition regime in force in Bihar has now come under fire from a BJP MP, who has called a review of the prohibition policy implemented by the Nitish Kumar-led government.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member RK Sinha has said that prohibition, which was implemented in April 2016 by the then JD(U)-RJD-Congress ‘grand alliance’ government, has failed.
His statement, made in Sasaram on Tuesday, is the first publicly expressed opinion against the much-hyped prohibition policy by an ally of the current NDA government in the state.
“There is a need to review the way prohibition has been imposed in the state... The tourism sector and hotel business in Bihar have been hit hard by prohibition. Big companies and MNCs are hosting their conferences and other functions in neighbouring West Bengal,” said Sinha.
He, however, said that Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar’s intentions behind imposing prohibition were “good” and that the measure benefited society. “But loopholes in implementation have led to a rise of the liquor mafia and officials making a fast buck,” he added.
Violation of the stringent provisions of the prohibition law formulated by the government has so far led to the arrest of more than 1.29 lakh people in the state. Former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi recently said that most of the arrested people hail from poor families and that top officials faced no action for consuming alcohol in violation of the law.
Sinha’s criticism comes just six days after prohibition and excise minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav admitted in the state Assembly that the liquor ban failed to prevent the entry of lakhs of litres of liquor into the state last year.
According to the minister, about 6.52 lakh raids have been conducted by police and excise officials in Bihar between April 1, 2016 and March 6, 2018, leading to the arrest of 1.22 lakh people. The government’s efforts to curb the rising menace of smuggling have led to the seizure of 16.4 lakh litres of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) and about 12.4 lakh litres of country liquor, added Yadav.