BJP high command upset over Devprayag distillery

Dehradun: The BJP high command is miffed over Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s decision to permit a private distillery in the holy area of Devprayag where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet to form the Ganga, top party sources said on Tuesday.

The high command is closely monitoring the developments in the state and the Chief Minister is under attack from all quarters, sources said.

Top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including state BJP President Ajay Bhatt, former Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri and others have already opposed the decision. 

Bhatt said the decision to produce liquor at Devprayag is “very wrong”.

Khanduri described the move as “suicidal” for Uttarakhand, saying the hill state was not created for manufacturing liquor. 

Right wing organisations including the International Hindu Parishad of Pravin Togadia and Devprayag residents are also opposed to the move. 

When contacted, Shyam Jaju, national vice president of the BJP and party in-charge of the state, said he would talk to the Chief Minister on the issue. 

He said the government should have considered the issue in depth but it was the fault of the previous Harish Rawat government which gave the licence for such a distillery in the holy city of Devprayag. 

However, the Congress led by former Chief Minister Rawat, has been opposing the distillery tooth and nail, claiming its liquor would be consumed by the local youth which would spoil their health.

“If I made a mistake, why is this government not correcting it,” he said.

However, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is strongly defending the distillery, saying the company which is setting up the plant would produce only export quality liquor and that the unit is 40 km away from the confluence of the rivers. 

“This distillery will help create employment opportunities in the area and also help the farmers get a better price for their produce,” he said.

The issue flared up when former Chief Minister Rawat in a tweet last week said that a liquor bottling plant is being set up at Devprayag to produce “Hill Top” brand of whisky.

The BJP has been severely criticising the move to set up the bottling plant at Devprayag since 2016 when the Congress was in power.