Ban on alcohol in Bihar is "dedicated" to Mahatma Gandhi as the state is observing the centenary of his Champaran Satyagraha, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today and asserted that prohibition "would not be withdrawn at any cost".
"Either I will be there or liquor. Prohibition would not be withdrawn at any cost," Kumar said at a function of self-help groups here.
He said imposition of total prohibition in Bihar is a "fitting tribute" to Mahatma Gandhi as the state is observing the centenary of his Satyagraha in favour of indigo planters, the first major agitation by the Father of the Nation against the Britishers in 1917.
"The prohibition decision is dedicated to the Rashtrapita," the Chief Minister said and came down heavily on "a few English speaking people" criticising the ban, who said it was the fundamental right of the citizens to decide on their food and drink.
"I want to make it clear to these English speaking people that consuming liquor is not a part of fundamental rights," he said.
The Nitish Kumar government had imposed complete ban on sale and consumption of liquor in the state since April 5.
Addressing the National Conference of Sociologists, Kumar said he was trying to serve the society better through "this small initiative" (prohibition).
Speaking at the function, social worker and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak lauded the liquor ban in Bihar and termed it as a "bold step for the development of the society".
Pathak, who hails from the state, said prohibition would directly help improve the quality of social structure in the near future and called upon sociologists to study the impact of liquor ban on social system.
Speaking at the function of self-help groups, Kumar exhorted women to be vigilant for making prohibition a success and assured them that the government is with them if they destroy illegal liquor manufacturing units.
In an apparent dig at rivals Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi, Kumar said "a few leaders rejected by voters" have still "not learnt the lesson" and were trying to "provoke" Pasi (toddy tapper community) by "falsely propagating" that the ban was on toddy.
The April 5 ban had said that the state government will strictly abide by the 1991 guidelines which prohibit sale of toddy within 50 metres of certain areas like schools, colleges, hospitals in urban areas and 100 metres of these institutions in rural areas.
Addressing the function of self-help groups, Nitish Kumar claimed that due to total prohibition in Bihar, heinous crime has gone down by 17.06 per cent.
Highlighting the gains of ban on liquor, he claimed that peace has come back in towns and villages and there was no incident of clash and fight at homes after imposition of prohibition.
The Chief Minister said the state government would soon screen a film in villages on the benefits of banning sale and consumption of alcohol.
He also recounted how people from all walks of life including legislators, officials and mediapersons came forward and took a pledge to make prohibition a public movement.