PATNA: BJP today questioned the Nitish Kumar government's decision allowing sale of liquor in army canteens in Bihar, saying it would make difficult for the government to enforce complete prohibition. "If complete prohibition has been enforced in the people's interest in the state, what is the basis of allowing sale of liquor in army canteens," senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.
Modi, who was Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's deputy during NDA regime, asked the government how it would ensure that the liquor sold in army canteens will not come to open market. "Will not the high and mighty be able to get liquor from Army canteen?... How the government would make prohibition a complete success in such a situation," he said.
Four days after banning sale and consumption of country- made and spiced liquor in rural areas from April 1, the state government followed it up with prohibiting India Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) with immediate effect yesterday.
The Chief Minister yesterday said army cantonment areas would be out of the liquor ban as they regulate sale and consumption of alochol in their own way. Modi yesterday welcomed the decision and said the state government has finally yielded to Opposition pressure for complete prohibition.
Speaking for bar and restaurants owners and industries that make spirit from maize or rice or set up bottling plants for country-made liquor, Modi asked the government to compensate them adequately as these firms had come forward to built their units on government's assurance.
The state government in April last year had banned the sale of country-made liquor in pouch and allowed the companies to set up bottling plants in the state, Modi said, adding that the government had not only given these firms licenses but also gave them subsidy.
The government should immediately return license fees collected for 2016-17 from businessmen for running bars and restaurants in the state, the senior BJP leader said. The government should also give relief vis-a-vis export duty to those who set up beer factories, he said.
With complete prohibition in vogue, these firms would require to export their products such as beer and spirit and hence the government should rationalise export duty, Modi added.