Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Accept wine dealers’ offer for liquor- free Elections: Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the liquor lobby’s offer to cooperate with the Government in facilitating liquor-free elections and requested the Election Commission to accept it in the interest of conducting free and fair elections.

Representatives of the Andhra Pradesh State Wine Dealers’ Association, who met the party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, submitted a copy of the memorandum they had presented to Chief Electoral Officer I. V. Subba Rao. They pointed out that candidates fighting the elections are expected to spend about Rs.40 lakh each on liquor distribution during elections. Since there will be multi-cornered contests this time, the expenditure on liquor by all candidates will range between Rs.1,5 crore to Rs.2 crore. In other words, the State will account for liquor sales worth Rs.450 crore to Rs.600 crore purely on account of elections.

The association disclosed that political parties bought liquor at prices at which they lifted them from the Beverages Corporation and left them with no profit and occasionally with bad debts even. In addition, free liquor distribution by candidates cut into dealers’ normal sales. The dealers also faced the threat of license cancellation if stocks were seized from unlicensed people.

The Association told the Election Commission that the dealers were prepared to shut the shops and bars until the elections were over if they were returned the license fee for the duration the liquor outlets remained closed. In the alternative, the Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation could restrict liquor sales to licensees. The supply during March and April could be limited to the average supply during January and February.

The Lok Satta wanted the Election Commission of India to seize the offer made by the AP Wine Dealers’ Association, and make history by conducting liquor-free elections for the first time in Andhra Pradesh. The wine dealers’ demand for reimbursement of the license fee for the duration of the closure of shops and bars is justified and reasonable. Assuming that the Andhra Pradesh Government earns a total of Rs.3000 crore a year by way of license fee from wine dealers, the loss it incurs in revenue because of the liquor outlets’ closure will be only Rs.200 crore. It is miniscule considering that the State Government’s budget expenditure exceeds Rs.100,000 crore during 2009-10. Instead of refunding the license fee collected for the period, the government can simply extend the validity of the license for the same period after the normal time of expiry. Thus there will be no outflow of cash from state exchequer.

Party spokespersons P. Ravi Maruth and S.Manorama told the media that a survey by the Lok Satta had revealed that inducements like money and liquor swayed 30 percent of voters. Although the Election Commission cannot control distribution of money undertaken clandestinely, it can definitely halt liquor distribution by accepting the dealers’ offer to shut down their outlets until the elections are over. The election outcome can be immunized at least from the liquor menace, if not money.

The Lok Satta, if elected to power, will drastically restrict liquor consumption by reducing the number of outlets and their working hours, banning public drinking and empowering village panchayats to enforce the ban on unauthorized outlets or face dissolution of the elected body.


  1. I think Lok Satta should stop this ridiculous war on liquor, and concentrate on taking its message to people. Prohibition and all has been tried before with limited success and where ever it was a success didn't lead to anything meaningful in the lives of people. NTR tried before, USA tried before and has given up. It only leads to underground mafia.

    And it's not the decision of a Govt to decide whether people can drink or not. Controlling adulterated liquor (or for that matter any other adulteration/illegal stuff) is a problem of law enforcement. Lok satta should provide ideas on improving general law enforcement instead of fighting liquor, cigarettes and crap. And law enforcement is particularly a major problem in India, not the laws themselves.

  2. However, it is very commendable when somebody doesnot want to buy votes dangling the liquor carrot in front of voters.