Patna: An oath of complete abstinence will be administered to all government employees in Bihar on Friday, November 26. The employees would also be made to sign an undertaking that they will not consume liquor or even allow the sale of liquor.
A similar oath was also administered in 2016 when the prohibitory laws were brought into force in Bihar by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. However, earlier this month, a series of hooch tragedies in the state leading to over 50 deaths gave the Opposition a reason to raise fingers at the laws in the state, yet again. RJD state president Jagdanand Singh went to the extent of saying that a parallel economy to the tune of Rs 20,000 has been generated in the state because of illicit liquor smuggling, annually.
Subsequently, Nitish Kumar called a review meeting of the concerned departments and passed specific orders with a stern warning of prompt action against the erring officials. As the chief minister started cracking the whip, a series of raids were conducted in various hotels and even marriage venues were not spared by the police.
Former Bihar chief minister and RJD leader Rabri Devi tweeted a video of policemen entering the room of a bride to search for liquor without any woman constable. Nitish Kumar, however, justified the raids even in marriage ceremonies saying that the police act on information.
The chief minister added that awareness campaigns would be carried out to ensure the prohibitory laws are enforced fully in the state.
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Hari Bhushan Thakur Bachaul said that the CM should repeal the prohibitory laws in Bihar on the same lines as the PM withdrew the farmers’ bill. He added, “The police have failed the system and now Nitish Kumar should repeal it as over 10 lakh people have been affected due to prohibition law in the state. Rather prohibition should be abolished and the tax money should be used.”
The statement evoked sharp reactions from the JDU that appears in no mood to relent. But just a day before the officials are supposed to be administered the oath of abstinence, another BJP MLA Kundan Kumar Singh said, “The crime graph has increased due to prohibition in the state. Cases of drug abuse are on the rise. The police is not able to focus on crime and is absorbed only in liquor-related cases, school children are being pushed into bootlegging, so the prohibition should be reviewed.”
The Opposition too seems to be questioning the oath to be administered to the officials.
“The officials themselves will make a mockery of the oath ceremony after taking the oath,” said Congress leader Asit Nath Tiwari. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Ajit Sharma has for long been saying that the prohibitory laws have failed in the state, and the government should start imposing a huge tax on liquor, which can be used for development and employment generation in the state.
Amid all the criticism, Nitish Kumar appears completely unfazed and is now bent upon ensuring that the state remains dry.