I love this guy! Nitish Kumar was a man on the edge during the campaigning phase of the Bihar election. He had made poll pact with his arch-rival, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and feared it might boomerang. It was a natural concern, considering Lalu’s notorious past. Nitish made the alliance stronger by bringing on board the Congress party. It was pretty watertight, and enough to derail Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s groovy train.
And it was beautifully done, simply because, especially in politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests…
Nitish’s latest delivery of one of his poll promises has further raised his stature in the eyes of neutrals, and forced his opponents to treat him with some degree of respect, even if muted. They don’t want party high command to haul them up with a ‘show cause’ notice, if they admired Nitish on national television.
In July, Nitish had promised the women that if re-elected, his first policy decision would be to ban the sale of liquor in Bihar. Liquor shops are in abundant numbers even in rural villages. Men beat their women regularly after coming home drunk. Nitish surely realized if it had to be delivered, the time was now. Quick and decisive, no forming of a committee to discuss the pros and cons. Just do it!
The decision to ban liquor, which will come in effect from April, 2016, is a righteous move, but practically, it promises damaging repercussions. Liquor earned the State exchequer approximately Rs 3,500-4,000 crore annually, it is the highest earner for the cash-starved state. He will have to confront the reality of illegal manufacturing of liquor, and its illegal sale from adjoining states into Bihar.
If Nitish Kumar’s bold decision to ban liquor in Bihar pays off, and other States start considering the same, the liquor industry could be in for a really bad time. Their revenues and share values are already starting to take different shapes, according to media reports.
Whatever be the cost, Nitish Kumar will need extreme courage to hold on to his decision and see to it that it is implemented. Possibly, he could have a meeting with his political adversary, Modi, and take a tip or two on how to implement and maintain ban on liquor. The Gujarat model is a highly successful model, even worthy of becoming a reference state for the numerous successes it has enjoyed under Modi’s leadership.
It’s time to be tolerant, not be wary of each other. Modi is not a threat to him anymore, at least not till the next five years. A show of peace will go a long way in helping Bihar. Center’s contribution to Bihar will be key in the development of the State. There is no point in jeopardizing people’s dreams at the cost of personal dislike for each other.