No Question of Turning the Clock Back on Prohibition: Nitish

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holding an all-party meet on prohibition on Tuesday.

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Patna: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday addressed an all-party meet at the Bihar Assembly Library to justify his decision to impose total prohibition in Bihar despite strong protest against it.

With leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Hindustani Awam Morcha, and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party present at the meeting, Kumar reminded the people that drinking or selling alcohol was not one of the many fundamental rights of the citizens and hence by imposing total prohibition in Bihar, he was not trampling on the rights of the people as being suggested by the opposition or a certain section of the society.

"I am doing it for the welfare of the people of Bihar where alcohol used to play a major role in domestic abuse and poverty. We cannot afford to water it down otherwise all good done by it would vaporize in a momen," he said.

Denying the label of an autocrat, the Chief Minister said that he believed in democracy and encouraged people to have a debate on prohibition but he ruled out withdrawing it completely saying since the ban on alcoholic drink, Bihar had become a much happier state while also adding Rs. 5000 crore in the state exchequer.

"I don't want any debate on withdrawing prohibition from Bihar. However, I am open to suggestions and ideas as to how to make prohibition more successful in the state," he said.

Imposing his personal view on drinking, Kumar said that he had been against alcohol from his very childhood days.

"Alcohol is very bad. I have been against it since I was very young. Some politicians and liquor manufacturers are afraid that prohibition will become very successful in Bihar and then it will lead to imposition of prohibition in other states. That is why they are opposing my policy of total prohibition by calling it 'Talibani' and 'draconian'. Instead of criticizing the policy, they should help us make Bihar an alcohol-free state and by offering suggestions so innocent people are not arrested under the new law," he said.

Opposition leaders, not in a mood to be sermonized by the Chief Minister, however, told him to withdraw all laws that are even tougher than those reserved for murderers and rapists.

"What kind of law is this when the law-breaker gets a punishment that is even tougher than a serial killer or rapist? All such laws should be immediately scrapped," said BJP leader Prem Kumar.

Meanwhile, apprehending Patna High Court to go against it, the Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all cases related to prohibition from Patna High Court to Supreme Court.

It may be recalled that the Patna High Court on September 30 had quashed the new liquor laws holding it was, in its current form, unconstitutional. To circumvent the High Court order, the Nitish government reworded some of the Excise laws and presented it as a new one to prevent it from being scrapped.

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