Booze Blitz: Kamal Nath Alleges Shivraj Chouhan Govt Forcing MP Traders to Open Liquor Outlets
The political tussle on opening of liquor vends in Madhya Pradesh bubbled up on Wednesday as former chief minister Kamal Nath alleged that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was hell-bent on resuming operations of these shops despite the public and even the traders themselves being averse to it.
Nath’s tweet came shortly after a decision by the Sangam Liquor Traders’ Association of not opening the vends in Bhopal, citing safety reasons amid the coronavirus scare.
Hamid Khan, president of the association, confirmed this to News18. "We are of the view that these shops will reopen once things normalise and the Covid-19 scare subsides," Khan added.
The association members said they had met state home minister Narottam Mishra on Tuesday over their demands but could not get any assurance. "We demanded licence duty on the basis of existing sales but the minister did not offer any convincing reply," added Khan.
Traders are demanding that the licence fee should be lowered as shops were closed for well over one and a half months and also there is the fear that sales could be dismal amid lockdown prohibitions and they could end up paying a hefty fee.
Soon, Kamal Nath launched an attack on the state's BJP government over the issue.
“School, colleges might be closed, people might not be getting medicines and milk, religious places are shut down, but liquor shops are being opened. These are the same people who while in opposition used to raise resistance against liquor and used to term liquor a threat to women,” Nath said in a tweet.
"After coming to power, these people have turned into the biggest advocates of liquor," added Nath claiming that the state may be gripped by the novel coronavirus, "but they (BJP govt) want unhindered flow of liquor".
Amid lockdown 4.0, the Shivraj government has declared urban areas of Bhopal as red zones while rural areas now fall under green zones and are now witnessing opening of liquor shops.
The excise department also swung into action against 15 liquor shops which were to reopen on Wednesday and prepared a panchnama of these stores under section 8 of the Excise Act and after a week will serve notices to them for depositing bank guarantee.
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said that liquor traders are required to operate as per the rules and regulations of the excise policy, failing which they could be subjected to action.
Agrawal said that the traders can’t bully the government into accepting their demands and suggested that they (the traders) are working at the behest of someone else (the opposition).
The Congress party has been attacking CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan for a while for pushing liquor sale despite the coronavirus threat.