BJP’s manifesto on liquor sale generates mixed response

Hyderabad: TRS and Congress, the major political players in poll-bound Telangana, have refrained from taking a public stand so far on the BJP’s proposal in its yet-to-be released manifesto to restrict sale of liquor in the state.

“How can I comment on somebody else’s manifesto?” a senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader responded when asked for his party’s view on the BJP’s assurance.

Another TRS leader noted that the BJP was yet to officially release the manifesto and added that the party may comment after it’s actually unveiled.

While officially the Congress was yet to react, a key party functionary said he welcomed the proposal on a personal level but pointed to revenue collection implications for the State. “This government has taken the revenue from liquor sales from Rs 8,000 crore per annum to Rs 20,000 crore in the last four and half years. If liquor sales are curbed, it will hurt the State economy, draining its resources to a significant extent,” he said.

The CPI National General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy was dismissive about the BJP’s proposal. “They are not going to come to power any way. What’s the purpose of making such a statement. These are empty statements like their national manifesto like 15 lakh rupees for each family promised by Narendra Modi,” Reddy told PTI.

The BJP won five seats in the 2014 Assembly elections in alliance with the TDP, which emerged victorious in 15 constituencies. This time, the BJP is going it alone in the December seven polls for the 119-member Assembly. The BJP has proposed in its election manifesto, which is in the works, to regulate the sale of liquor, claiming that its unrestricted availability and consumption was leading to several social and law and order problems in the state.

The proposal is to restrict the sale of liquor to five days a week. “Sale of liquor will be regulated to five days only… Every day, timings will be maintained… After 6 (PM), no wine shop or bar will be open,” BJP’s manifesto committee chairman N V S S Prabhakar had said.

The TRS government in Telangana and the governments in undivided Andhra Pradesh have seen sale of liquor only as a source of income, Prabhakar, who was MLA in the recently dissolved Telangana Legislative Assembly, alleged.

The consumption of liquor is leading to various problems, including atrocities against women, suicides and law and order problems, Prabhakar claimed.