Rajasthan to go liquor free in phases, says Raghu Sharma

Ahmedabad: In a major revelation, Health Minister Raghu Sharma here on Thursday announced the Congress Government would implement liquor prohibition in the State in a phased manner in keeping with the public sentiment and not impose it like in Gujarat.

In an exclusive interview with First India, Raghu Sharma categorically stated, “There will be prohibition by the choice of the people and no direction imposition.” The minister was speaking on a visit to Ahmedabad.

Explaining the State Government’s approach, he said, “In the last term, our government put a cap on sale of liquor till 8 pm. Taking a step ahead, this time we took a referendum from the people on the issue and implemented in villages where as many as 90 per cent locals voted in favour of the dry law.”

He claimed, “There are many such villages in Rajasthan as of now.”

Sharma pointed out that Rajasthan had launched a campaign starting from the Sarvodaya Day, January 30, when 1.14 crore people took a pledge for de-addiction. He went on, “Things should be implemented phase-wise and strategically, so that it sustains.”

The Health Minister asserted, “Everybody knows the truth about liquor ban in Gujarat. In Rajasthan, it is sad to say that former MLA Gurusharan Chhabra died in the hospital fighting and protesting against the ban during BJP’s tenure,” he said.

“We will not prohibit liquor the way Gujarat did. There is no benefit of such a ban. We will bring an impactful ban in a phase manner and this would be permanent. One should mean what one says — we believe in this,” Raghu Sharma asserted.

Asked about the general apathy of the people against the Congress party, he admitted that this was so in the 2019 elections but the people soon realised their mistake.

“The people have supported us more than our expectation in the recent election in Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat by-election. This happened even after our party was in a precarious situation and its head had resigned,” he pointed out. Sharma said the party would go by the people’s mandate in these states.

Asked about the health sector in Rajasthan, Sharma said “Rajasthan tops in country in free medicine supply scheme by National Health Mission Ranking and in de-addication, which has been acknowledged by WHO. We have put a blanket ban on e-cigarette, hukka bars, Gutka etc and people are volunteering to reject alcohol sale in their villages,” Sharma informed.

Attaching the BJP, he said the Modi government was creating an environment of fear by misusing ED, IT and CBI. “In the coming days, BJP will have to pay for its Karma. In the 2022 elections in Gujarat, the common man will give them a befitting reply. Alpesh Thakore left Congress (in Gujarat) and joined the BJP. But later the people rejected him in the elections.”