Thursday, March 19, 2009

Election authorities expose Government duplicity On belt shops' closure: Dr. JP

“What the State Government could not do in four years and a half, the Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami and the Chief Electoral Officer I. V. Subba Rao did it in less than a week.”

That was how Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayapraksh Narayan reacted to the news of the closure of unauthorized liquor outlets, also known as belt shops.

Dr. JP recalled how the State Government had consistently refused to acknowledge even the existence of belt shops, leave alone ordering their closure. Activists of the Lok Satta and the Mahila Satta had drawn the attention of the Chief Minister as also Excise Department officials through representations and direct action. Yet, the Government would not act. Apparently, the Government which auctioned licensed shops to the highest bidders wanted to boost its revenues further by promoting liquor sales through belt shops also.

“The very arrest of more than 5000 belt shop operators in the last one week exposes Government’s duplicity. The Government which is supposed to uphold the rule of law itself has been guilty of not merely condoning but encouraging the belt shop culture.”

Dr. JP hoped that the belt shops, which have played havoc with millions of poor people, would remain permanently shut after the elections.

Lok Satta Party is deeply committed to protecting the future of 70 lakh poor families which are in deep crisis on account of liquor consumption. The men and young people are getting addicted to liquor, and in most cases their first taste of alcohol is during election campaigns.

The women in these families are facing unbearable suffering. The children are ignored on account of drunkenmen and poverty. Lok Satta will strictly regulate liquor trade, close down all belt shops and give the village community the responsibility and power to close down unauthorized outlets and to stop illicit distillation and adulteration of toddy. If a panchayat fails in its duties, it will be dismissed and fresh election held” Dr JP declared.

“The swift success of the Election Commission in closing down belt shops shows that with will, we can implement people centric policies. Lok Satta alone has the will today to address the liquor problem. Traditional Parties which are distributing liquor during elections cannot ever succeed in curbing liquor menace” Dr. JP added.

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