Nitish Kumar pitches for prohibition in UP, draws flak from SP

New Delhi: After imposing liquor ban in his state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday advocated total prohibition in Uttar Pradesh, drawing instant flak from the ruling Samajwadi Party, which accused him of making “negative comments against the state” and thereby “strengthening communal forces”.

During his day-long visit here today, Kumar demanded that prohibition be imposed in Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls early next year. His visit today and other recent tours of the state, however, did not go down well with ruling SP leaders. Kumar had visited Varanasi a few days back.

“The manner in which Nitish Kumar has been targetting UP, coming here every now and then, his comments against the SP government will embolden communal forces against which the UP government is fighting,” SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said.

He said Kumar has joined the “league” of MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who visit UP frequently and criticise the state government and the ruling party, which is fighting “communal forces”.

By making “frequent trips” and “misleading” the people here, Nitish Kumar is “strengthening communal forces”, he said. Chaudhary said Kumar spoke of prohibition but did not say a word on development.

“Don’t worry Akhileshji (the UP Chief Minister)…ensure total prohibition. When liquor was banned in Bihar, people had problems for a few days. But, subsequently there was no problem,” Kumar said addressing a farmers’ conclave. He urged his UP counterpart to ensure liquor is not available within a distance of five km from UP-Bihar border to discourage people from his state to consume alcohol.

“I have written to the UP chief minister in this regard,” he said, adding he was awaiting a reply to his letter.

Earlier, addressing a farmers’ conference in Lucknow, Kumar asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement total prohibition in all BJP-ruled states like in his home state Gujarat.

The Bihar Chief Minister expressed hope that the liquor ban in his state would be replicated in other states with equal success. He said country liquor as well as Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) have been totally banned in Bihar, and to ensure its success, existing laws amended.

Commenting on Kumar’s anti-liquor campaign, BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said, “It appears more of a case to divert attention from his failure on law and order front in Bihar.”

During his day-long stay here, Kumar also visited Ambedkar Mahasabha, apparently to send out a message to Dalits, who constitute a sizeable vote bank in UP, where JD(U) is likely to filed candidates in Assembly polls scheduled next year.