Though the stocks in the liquor shops were not being replenished by the AP Beverages Corporation Limited as needed following the directions from the State Election Commission, king makers in the villages were finding ways to get the liquor for distribution among voters for the ensuing panchayat polls.
They are relying on the supply of liquor from across the border and several instances of large amounts of liquor seized from different check-posts in the state at the borders with neighbouring states indicate it.
According to sources in APBCL lifting of liquor was less this year compared to last year. It is five percent less than previous year. Till date 30 lakh cases of liquor bottles were lifted from APBCL against 32 lakh cases for the same period last year.
With excise and police department acting tough and conducting raids on the liquor outlets from time to time, the liquor shop owners were not willing to take any risk. State Election Commission orders saw to the closure of as many as 1,044 unauthorised liquor shops otherwise known as belt shops.
However, the political leaders backing the candidates contesting the sarpanch and ward members are ensuring that there is supply of liqour, even the cheaper varients from across the border. In Adilabad district, recently a truck laden with liquor worth Rs 25 lakh was seized. Heady brew from across the border with Maharashtra and Chattisgarh is being smuggled into the district for the purpose of distribution among the voters.
Recently in Srikakulam district, 1,000 litres of cheap liquor being brought into the state was seized at the border. But, sources say, there are several entry points into North Andhra districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam from Odisha for smuggling liqour. Moreover, the political organisers backing the candidates in the fray, find it convenient to have the liquor smuggled from across the border as it is cheaper.
Same is the case in Medak district, which has borders with Karnataka. In Narayakhed and Zaheerabad constituencies, political organisers are smuggling liquor across the border from Bidar and Mannekeli and Humanbad.
It is the same across the border villages of Mahabubnagar, Kurnool, Anantapur, which have borders with Karnataka. In Chittoor district, the border with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is notorious for smuggling of liquor across the border.
Admitting that the supply of liqour across the border into the state is very much there, State Election Commission secretary Naveen Mittal said they have formed special teams to check liquor smuggling.