In a unique move, senior BJP leader Uma Bharti on Thursday tied stray cows in front of a liquor shop in Orchha town of Madhya Pradesh and fed them hay while asking people to choose cow milk over alcohol.
The former chief minister, spearheading a drive against liquor consumption in the BJP-ruled state, argued the government should not benefit from the habit of drinking.
‘Sharab Nahi, Doodh Piyo’
Standing in front of the shop selling Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Orchha, a town in Niwari district famous for its temples and palaces, after tying the cows, Bharti was heard raising the slogan “Sharab Nahi, Doodh Piyo (drink milk, not liquor)”.
In June last year, the BJP leader had thrown cow dung at the same liquor shop. In March 2022, she threw a stone at a liquor shop in Bhopal.
An outlet salesman immediately downed its shutters, apparently fearing a repeat of the 2022 incidents.
Uma Bharti on regularisation of alcohol sales
The Hindutva leader said she, too, was to some extent responsible for the prevailing drinking problem and recalled she sought votes for the BJP in the 2003 Assembly polls and since then, the party has been in power in MP barring 15 months in 2018-2020 when the Congress ruled the state.
The saffron leader, who earlier pushed for total prohibition in the state, for the last few months had been seeking regularisation of alcohol sales in Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly polls are due by the year-end.
“Last time, the former Union minister had flung cow dung at this Orchha liquor shop. So this time I downed the shutters of the shop,” salesman Rampal told PTI.
According to the salesman, addressing people who had gathered near the IMFL shop, Bharti said the government should not cash in on the habit of drinking.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a ‘courageous’ leader
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a “courageous” leader, who has accepted that the existing excise policy has some flaws and promised to draft a new one in consultation with yoga guru Ramdev, she told the small gathering, according to Rampal.
In the state capital, Chouhan dodged questions from reporters on Bharti’s statements and her anti-liquor campaign.
The Madhya Pradesh government is expected to introduce a new excise policy shortly. Speaking at a Republic Day function, Chouhan had said the new excise policy would discourage drinking.
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