Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharti on Monday welcomed Madhya Pradesh’s new excise policy, saying it reflects her demand to discourage liquor consumption and described it as a “historic and revolutionary” decision.
The Madhya Pradesh cabinet on Sunday approved the new excise policy under which ‘ahatas’, or areas for drinking attached to liquor outlets, and shop bars will be closed.
State Home Minister Narottam Mishra said the new excise policy is designed to discourage liquor consumption.
Bharti had demanded a “controlled liquor policy” in MP.
The former MP chief minister, who had started her campaign with the demand for total prohibition, gradually relaxed it and asked for regularisation of liquor sale in the state, where the Assembly polls are due this year-end.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Bharti said the liquor policy announced by the state government is a “historic and revolutionary” decision and thanked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on behalf of all the citizens, especially women.
The new liquor policy totally prohibits drinking sitting in front of the liquor shop. The decision to close ahatas across the state and introducing stringent penal provisions for driving under the influence of alcohol are special parts of this policy which make Madhya Pradesh a “model state” for the excise policy, she said.
Bharti said CM Chouhan has made it clear that the public interest is supreme for the BJP government in the state.
The new policy also ensures that liquor shops for which there has been huge public protest will not be auctioned, she noted.
The administration and elected representatives will have to be very cautious in the policy implementation, she added.
Bharti said the chief minister has fulfilled his commitment .“My elder brother (Chouhan) gave me immense satisfaction and pride personally,” she tweeted.
She said the new liquor policy announced by the MP government will become a “model policy” for other states as well.
Madhya Pradesh has already progressed a lot in organic farming based on cow progeny. “We will cooperate with the government by strengthening the campaign ‘sharab chhodo dudh piyo’ (give up alcohol and drink milk),” the BJP leader added.
Bharti has been campaigning against liquor consumption and has asked the Chouhan-led BJP government in MP not to cash in on the drinking habit of people through a liberal excise regime.
She had tied two cows in front of a liquor shop in Orchha town of Niwari district, which is famous for temples and palaces, and exhorted people to drink milk and not alcohol under her ‘madhushala mein gaushala’ (cowshed in liquor vend) programme.
She had also thrown dung at the shop in Orchha in protest against the sale of liquor.
State Home Minister Mishra on Sunday evening said, “All ahatas and shop bars are being shut in the state. Now, only liquor will be sold at the shops and places of drinking will not be allowed.
The distance of liquor shops from educational institutions, girls’ hostels and religious places is being increased from 50 metres to 100 metres, he said, adding laws to cancel the driving licenses in cases of drunk driving will be made more stringent.