Vijayawada: Telugu Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu seems to have decided to bat the rights of tipplers too during his ongoing ‘Praja Chaitanya Yatra’, what with the former chief minister highlighting the non-availability of most brands of liquor and their soaring prices as a failure of the YSR Congress government.
Mr Naidu is currently on a yatra to “highlight the misrule” of CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and “awaken people on how their lives got adversely impacted” because of mis-governance.”
Speaking at series of public meetings in Prakasam district, the TD chief also expressed concern over the state losing excise revenue, which he said was garnered by the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “Are you getting liquor brand of your choice in shops? Aren’t its prices not very high?” he asks the crowd, meeting after meeting, rhetoric which instantaneously is responded with loud positive cheering and clapping.
Mr Naidu then goes on to shower sympathy on guzzlers, saying that some people had a weakness for consuming a peg or two to relieve themselves from ordeals of long day’s hard labour; and then he blames Mr Reddy for exploiting them, by increasing liquor prices.
The leader of the opposition, according to his party men, took a gamble by highlighting the non-availability of liquor and its exorbitant price. “Today it is definitely a burning issue throughout the state,” a senior politburo member said, adding that the crowd quickly connected to the issue as was seen from the spontaneous response.
The former CM, who once experimented with total prohibition immediately after dethroning his father-in-law N.T. Rama Rao, could not sustain the policy and abolished prohibition and re-introduced liquor in the state within a year. The YSR Congress on the other hand, had announced imposition of total prohibition in a gradual manner in its 2019 election manifesto.
Defending the decision to enhance liquor prices as a policy, Ambati Rambabu, senior YSRC party leader and Sattenapallik MLA, said that the spirit behind enhancing prices was to discourage consumption. “We openly announced that we will give a shock to people who consume liquor. Our policy will provide a greater relief to their families,” he said.
The strategy is clearly paying off as was evident from sales coming down considerably in the last eight months, though revenues remained high, thanks to increased prices, he claimed. But all is not well in the liquor policy, particularly when it comes to procurement of different brands. Ever since the-then Chandrababu Naidu government made the state a wholesaler in 1996, a clear policy of placing indents was followed, depending on consumption of respective the previous year....