Nath, Chouhan engage in verbal duel over liquor policy

Nath, Chouhan engage in verbal duel over liquor policy

PTI file photo

A war of words has broken out between Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his predecessor Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Congress-led state government's move to allow the opening of 'sub-liquor shops' in the state.

Chouhan, who was the chief minister of the state for three consecutive terms before his party- BJP- was dislodged from power in December 2018, on Friday wrote a letter to Nath, in which he opposed the idea of allowing 'sub-liquor shops', saying it would create problems for people in general and women in particular.

In the letter, he claimed that due to the new policy, 2,000 to 2,500 new liquor shops will be opened in MP, which will ultimately lead to a rise in crime.

However, Nath shot off a counter-letter to Chouhan on Friday night saying that the "truth" is that maximum number of liquor outlets were opened during the BJP rule.

Accusing Chouhan of misleading the people through his "wrong" claims, Nath said in the letter that the former CM has not studied the notified policy regarding the opening of sub- shops.

"According to the policy, new shops will not be opened, but the licensee of the original shop can open a sub- shop under certain conditions if he wishes. This will curb crimes committed against the excise department," Nath said.

Citing the data from the previous BJP government, Nath said in 2003-04, which was the last financial year of the Congress government in MP before the saffron party's 15 years of uninterrupted rule, there were 2,221 country-made liquor shops, which rose to 2,770 in the year 2010-11 under the BJP rule.

"Similarly, the number of foreign liquor shops increased from 581 in 2003-04 to 916 in 2010-11," he said.

"This makes it clear that in 2003-04, the number of country and foreign liquor shops was 2,792 in the state, which went up to 3,683 during Chouhan's tenure," Nath said.

Nath said that mafia can be checked and controlled by operating statutory and lawful business activities as provided by the government in the new excise policy.

Talking to reporters on Saturday over Nath's response, Chouhan said, "If the MP CM believes that mafia can be controlled by making such business activities legal, then he should allow opening of liquor shops in every village and even start a doorstep delivery service."

He also opined that opening new liquor shops could prove disastrous for the state and this policy should be withdrawn in the interest of the people.

"This decision was not taken by a public welfare government, but by liquor mafia," he alleged.

The notification on sub-liquor shops in rural and urban areas was issued on Thursday night, with the government officials claiming that the move was aimed at increasing revenue for the cash-strapped state.

As per the order, existing liquor shop owners, after paying licence fee, can open a sub-shop five km away in urban areas and 10 km away in rural areas. 

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