The flogging was “for the benefit of alcoholilcs,” the anti-corruption movement icon had said.
“It will force them to get rid of their habit out of shame after getting beaten in public.
Several reformed boozers later confessed that it was public flogging that got them out of this snare,” Hazare told the local media and television channels at his village, Ralegan Siddi in Ahmednagar district.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, who had lost a recent war of words with the Gandhian, did not pull his punches this time.
“I think the Taliban used to say the same thing. By that analogy, you will possibly have to flog half of Kerala, three-fourths of Andhra Pradesh and about four-fifths of Punjab. Therefore that’s quite a tall order.”
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman also ridiculed Hazare’s suggestion and said her party did not support draconian methods. “It is not something which you can implement, not because you can't but these (steps) are not the ways today,” she said.
The statement also sparked off a debate in the cyber world with people asking the Gandhian, “to focus on his movement and fight graft, instead of going around making remarks on every subject under the sun.”
Hazare’s prescription for curing alcoholism elicited indignant comments from bloggers. One stated: “Anna’s ‘shariah’ punishment for drunkards.”
Another was equally caustic: “Dear Anna Hazare, please accept: People won’t stop drinking. Nor smoking, infidelity, violence, prostitution etc. Just focus on corruption.”
The 74-year-old Gandhian, known for his abhorrence to intoxicating substances, had earlier also kicked up a debate when he had issued a diktat in his native village in late 80s and early 90s to “flog people who consume alcohol.”
During those days, Ralegan Siddi villagers who professed love for alcohol were issued warnings and then were forced to take an oath in the temple to stop consuming alcohol.
They were tied to electric pole and flogged in public. Though such practices and other similar punitive actions had attracted criticism, the success of his anti-graft crusade had glossed over several of his strictures bordering on ‘feudalistic practices.’