CHENNAI: Attacking the liquor policy of Tamil Nadu while taking a differential stand in respect of other States could take the fizz out of the spirited campaigns for prohibition launched by leaders of national parties such as the BJP, Congress and Communists.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had on Thursday devoted a significant portion of his speech at Tiruchy to assailing the sale of liquor through the TASMAC in Tamil Nadu and promised to work for an alternative liquor policy if voted to power. In the same vein, BJP state president Tamilisai Soundararajan on Friday declared that she would not rest until the TASMAC wine shops are wound up making Tamil Nadu a dry State.
However, noting that liquor flowed more freely in States ruled by either of these parties, political opponents and critics, have begun to question if the campaign for prohibition is a mere vote capturing tactic exploiting the emerging anti-liquor sentiments of the people.
“Congress and BJP are harping on prohibition in Tamil Nadu only to exploit the growing resentment against liquor,” insists Thamizhaga Vazhvurimal Katchi leader T Velmurugan. They just want to ride the anti-liquor wave and reap political gains. Is there any State ruled by the BJP or Congress which has introduced prohibition,” he asks.
Agreeing, political analyst ‘Aazhi’ Senthilnathan says that the national parties are using the liquor policy to whip the Dravidian parties. “They have no locus standi to stress on prohibition in Tamil Nadu alone. It is only a political game to exploit the growing sentiments of the people here,” he contends.
“Only a national prohibition policy will be practical and viable,” says Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan, pointing out that it would be hard to stop flow of liquor from neigbhouring regions if prohibition is clamped in Tamil Nadu alone. “No State Government can eradicate liquor independently. The Union Government must announce a national policy restraining State Governments from issuing liquor license,” he argues. Considering the liquor affects the marginalised sections across the country, he says that it wouldn’t be proper to think of protecting the people of Tamil Nadu alone.
Congress spokesperson A Gopanna is of the view that Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on a liquor policy should not be viewed in isolation. “Rahul’s promise about a new liquor policy is certainly aimed at prohibition as he is promising to wipe out the tears of women suffering due to liquor addiction by their male folks. It will be good if liquor is prohibited throughout the country. Rahul is speaking for the entire nation and not for Tamil Nadu alone,” he claims.
BJP national secretary H Raja argues that liquor is a State subject and it should be left to State governments.
“Though BJP is a national party, liquor is a State subject. In Tamil Nadu, the demand is being made as it was one of the two States where prohibition was in place,” he contends.