Abdul Bari Siddiqui, national RJD leader and Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Bihar Bidhan Sabha, former minister of finance and many other departments, Government of Bihar
Banning alcohol, ideologically speaking, is a laudable policy. In Bihar, it could be implemented in a better way to make it really successful. The government should have launched an awareness campaign before implementing it. Such a policy should be implemented in phases. It could be implemented at first in the rural sector, then in small towns and then in other urban areas and other sectors of the economy, for example. Earlier when Nitish Kumar gave huge licences to open liquor shops in the rural areas we opposed as an opposition party. He then replied that it was only to increase revenue to spend on sectors like giving cycles and shoes to students, and other social sector expenditure. At present, consumption of alcohol is rampant though officially banned. Surprisingly alcohol is smuggled from
adjacent states which are ruled by BJP governments. Smuggling from Nepal is also done. Now alcohol is available in the alternative market. Even a section that never had anything to do with to alcohol related business is entering into this illegal trade. A new phenomenon like illegal home delivery of alcohol is cause for concern in the state. The greatest beneficiary in this situation is the police. It is taking advantage of the situation.
Revenue loss due to banning alcohol is not easy to make up whatever the statistics of the government may be. A number of business conferences and other social programmes are shifting to Varanasi, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and other places. This must have economic consequences. We supported prohibition while we were in the government and I had been the finance minister then. But we preferred to ban it after preparing for it. It is known that alcohol consumption has socially negative consequences.