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27 April 2017 | Last updated 05:51 PM
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Yin For Change
Rest of Maha
Women support Nitish’s liquor ban, but smuggling continues
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s anti-liquor drive has never been as attractive as of now especially among women of the state.
If chief ministers of some BJP-ruled states plan to impose liquor ban, albeit, in a phased manner, others are facing the mounting pressure of common people, particularly women in rural areas who always have been ‘silent’ victims of their alcoholic husbands.
Nitish could finally take pride in the fact that his prohibition drive has been able to ‘inspire’ others, a huge contrast with the situation when a good number of sceptics had dismissed his campaign as impractical in the beginning.
Despite criticism, the Bihar Chief Minister stuck to his guns as he knew very well that his liquor ban had an overwhelming support from women, constituting nearly half of the population.
And now, even when the smuggling of liquor into ‘dry’ Bihar remains rampant despite consistent raids by police and excise authorities, wives of alcoholic husbands have strong reason to support Nitish’s anti-liquor campaign as the access to liquor is not easy anymore.
Even if the liquor is sold in the ‘grey’ market in the state, the high price is the biggest deterrent. People are also scared of being punished severely under the new prohibition law if they are caught consuming alcohol.
Nitish Kumar never misses any opportunity to draw the point on how domestic violence is on the wane in the state since the imposition of prohibition. Social tensions have reduced and people of the state have started buying household items from the money, which was spent on the purchase of liquor during the pre-prohibition era.
The Chief Minister`s prohibition move has also started paying dividends for him as women irrespective of their castes and religions and also their socio-economic background had largely supported the move as the habit of liquor consumption was a strong reason for their mental agonies.
So, Mr Kumar found it fit to cite a study on alcoholism in tourist destination Goa, which has found that wives of alcoholic husbands suffer from depression while addressing a function organised to mark golden jubilee celebration of Gandhi Sangrahalaya here on Saturday.
The study had disclosed that 80 per cent of women in Goa suffer from depression owing to alcoholism of their husbands, a revelation that gives credence to his demand for countrywide prohibition.
It further finds out that alcoholic husbands have the tendency to neglect their families, driving wives and children into depression.
Goa, a BJP-ruled state has yet to make its intentions clear on how it would respond to the conclusions of the study but other BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have already started giving a serious thought to prohibition.
Incidentally, both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh would go to polls next year and BJP might not be averse to the idea of winning a large section of women by imposing prohibition.
It is widely believed that women rising above their individual preferences for candidates had voted overwhelmingly to the grand alliance in a hope that Chief Minister Kumar would keep his promise to impose prohibition in the state if he returns to power in the 2015 state Assembly election.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh, who had recently paid a visit to Bihar, announced that he would impose prohibition in a phased manner in his state.
Similarly, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had also announced a phased ban on liquor in his state.
Even in Uttar Pradesh, several anti-liquor protests by women`s groups have already started mounting pressure on firebrand BJP leader and Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi to announce prohibition in the state.
Mr Kumar had also once said that the liquor ban in Bihar was ‘dedicated’ to Mahatma Gandhi as the state is observing the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi`s ‘Champaran Satyagraha’.
Mahatma Gandhi`s grandson and former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, activist Medha Patkar and others had applauded Mr Kumar’s decision on liquor ban during a recent national seminar to mark the centenary celebrations of Champaran movement.
Bihar CM has surely emerged as an icon for the nationwide anti-liquor movement as he knows very well that prohibition is a strong tool to catch the imagination of millions and billions of people, particularly women.
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