Raking up a new controversy in Bihar, HAM(S) chief and former Chief Minister of Bihar Jitan Ram Manjhi said that if voted back to power he will revoke the 'anti-poor' liquor ban of the state.
Addressing a poll rally in Bihar's Nawada, he said that if people vote for the Mahagathbandhan in the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 as well as the assembly elections of the state next year, then, their alliance will revoke the liquor ban of the state brought by CM Nitish Kumar.
Quoting a famous bhojpuri quote, he said:
''Sau chuha kha k billi chale haj...''
''It is like the cat goes to pilgrimage after killing 100 mice. I mean to say they do not care about poor people. They have brought this 'alcohol law' to harass the poor. If we come to power in Lok Sabha and in the state election, with Tejashwi as the CM of Bihar, we will end this law.''
This is not the first time that the former CM has spoken against the 'liquor ban', as even when he was in alliance with Nitish Kumar's JD(U), he batted against the ban on liquor that was imposed back in 2016. Last year, in the 'gareeb rally' (poor rally) of the Gathbandhan, he made a statement, claiming that 'many JD(U) leaders consume liquor. The liquor trade is still flourishing in the state however the police crackdowns only affect the poor and that 80% of the people lodged in jails under this law belong to the Dalit community'
Manjhi's party is a part of Congress-RJD grand alliance in Bihar and will be contesting on three seats as per the seat-sharing deal of the parties in the Gathbandhan. Manjhi is contesting from Gaya district of Bihar.
Out of the 40 seats in the state, Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD is contesting on 19 seats, Congress on nine, Upendra Kushwaha – led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party on five seats and Mukesh Sahni-led Vikasheel Insaan party on three seats.
Nitish Kumar-led government in 2016 banned the liquor in the state and since then, it has been a flagship bill of his government. PM Modi had also praised the liquor ban in the state in January 2017, when the two shared stage during 350th birth anniversary function of Guru Govind Singh. Incidentally, Nitish was still a part of Mahagathbandhan that included RJD and HAM (S) at that time.
Elections in Bihar will take place in all the seven phases beginning from April 11 and the counting of all the phases will be on May 23.