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Dry law in Gujarat only in name, admits former CM Anandiben Patel

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Thursday admitted it was a reality that liquor was being consumed in the state despite a dry law in place.

Patel, who was the state’s first woman Chief Minister, was exhorting wives of constructions workers at a public function to give up drinking and indicated that liquor was indeed available in Gujarat.

“Don’t your husbands drink? What do they drink,” the former school principal known for her no-nonsense demeanour, asked women construction workers at an event organised by Baandhkaam Shramyogi Kalyan Board (Construction Workers Welfare Board).

“The Welfare Board must have carried out several surveys for benefit of the workers but I would request that a survey should be done to find out how many people (construction workers) consume alcohol. This is important to know since workers lose major part of their earnings because of alcohol addiction. Lives of many workers were being wasted by drinking,” she lamented.

Patel was speaking at a ‘Seva saptah’ (Service Week) organised to distribute assistance of Rs 50 lakh for health, education and security of women construction workers. The event was held to commemorate birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and end of the year-long celebrations to observe the birth centenary of Pandit DeenDayal Upadhyay.

Gujarat not only has a prohibition policy ever since its formation in 1960, but the state government also had made the prohibition policy tougher by making provisions for 10 years in jail and financial penalty of Rs 5 lakh for sale and purchase of liquor.

The Gujarat High Court had in April observed that the state’s prohibition policy had failed to yield “positive results”, adding that either it was not effective or there were loopholes in its implementation.

Meanwhile, while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party sought to avoid any comments, the Congress lapped it up calling it the “biggest failure of BJP.”

State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi asserted: “She is not just a former chief minister but a very senior BJP leader. Her observations prove that prohibition in (Mahatma) Gandhi and Sardar’s (Vallabhbhai Patel) Gujarat is only on paper and points to what we have been saying about the Home Department being the den for alcohol distribution.”