Liquor Wars | Madhya Pradesh

The Congress and the BJP are engaged in a war of words over a proposed amendment in the state excise policy that will allow the sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) at country liquor outlets. While the BJP is accusing the new Congress government of bringing in norms that pro­mote alcohol sale, the latter has accused the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan regime of promoting the interests of the country liquor lobby.

Under the new liquor policy, the cash-strapped Kamal Nath government proposes to allow existing retailers to retain their outlets by paying 20 per centcompared to the 15 per cent the year beforeover the amount paid the previous financial year.

Chouhan has dashed off a letter to Nath protesting the decision. The Congress, in turn, points to how Chouhan had done everything he could to promote the sale of country liquor. While finalising the liquor policy in 2018, a cabinet meeting the ex-CM had chaired apparently awar­ded tenders to country liquor manufacturers for not only 2018-19 but for 2019-20 too. This was done as a supplementary agenda and not vetted by the commercial taxes department. Chouhan’s objection is only to protect his friends in the arrack busin­ess. He wants the villages to continue to get only country liquor, says Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja.

The liquor business contributes substantially to poll expenditure for parties, something the Election Commission is aware of. So while the BJP seems to be promoting country liquor, the Congress looks to be pitching for IMFL. Tipplers in MP sure aren’t complaining.


The Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, which has been with the BJP since 1989, has new suitors. Some among the Congress brass want Digvijaya Singh to fight from here. The ex-CM could corner a large number of rural votes given his hold over the local leadership. The constituency’s northern part is contiguous with Digvijaya’s zone of influence in his former constituency Raghogarh, now represented by his son, minister Jai Vardhan Singh. The 350,000 Muslim votes too are likely to go his way. From the BJP, Union rural dev­elopment minister Narendra Singh Tomar is considering contesting from Bhopal. It will be an exciting contest.


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