BHOPAL: Liquor bottles in Assembly poll-bound Madhya Pradesh are appealing to tipplers to vote in large numbers on the polling day – November 28, 2018. For the last two days, licensed liquor vends in tribal-dominated Jhabua district (bordering dry state Gujarat) are selling liquor bottles bearing labels that contain an appeal to voters to exercise their franchise in large numbers.
On Friday and Saturday, several liquor vends in Jhabua district were found selling liquor bottles bearing an appeal in the Bhili tribal language to vote in large numbers.
“Voting is necessary, press the EVM button to register your vote,” read the yellow-blue labels on liquor and beer bottles. The labels also say the appeal has been issued by the district election officer of Jhabua.
Jhabua district has a predominantly Bhil population that mostly earns its livelihood by working in adjoining Gujarat.
But sensing that controversy could be triggered by the innovation to boost poll turnout in the district, the authorities decided to withdraw the innovation by Saturday evening.
“The labels on the liquor bottles were part of various innovative initiatives under the Systematic Voters Education Electoral Participation Plan being undertaken by the ECI to educate and motivate voters to vote in large numbers. The labels and stickers, however, have now been withdrawn with immediate effect,” said Jhabua district excise officer Abhishek Tiwari on Saturday evening.
Jhabua district collector Ashish Saxena added that the initiative had been planned as an experiment, but it had been shelved. “We’ll now instead put similar stickers on the ration cards of the public distribution system (PDS) beneficiaries,” said Saxena.
While officials in Jhabua district remained tight-lipped about the sudden change of heart pertaining to liquor bottles bearing appeals to vote, sources in Bhopal said that the initiative had been shelved on the directions of the Chief Electoral Officer’s office in the state capital.