Nitish kumar made liquor ban a major issue during the 2015 assembly election and campaigned aggressively for a ban on liquor in Bihar. His main pitch was that banning liquor would lead to an improvement in law and order while it would also reduce the expenses of families. This campaign worked in the favour of “Sushashan Babu” some voters thought this was critical issue to vote for the MGB.
What is the financial impact of this ban?
The State's own Tax revenue was about Rs 22300 crores in the 2014-15 budget. At the end of 2019-20, State's own revenue went up to about Rs 39000 crores. This means, the growth was about 12% per annum. This may sound a lot but during the same period, Odisha with almost double the per capita and a much lower population growth also increased its revenue by more than 12%. If Bihar has to catch up rest of country, it needs to earn more and spend more on its people.
What is the Social Impact?
But finances are only small part of the problem. On the ground ,liquor ban has not made any impact.Illegal sales of liquor has commenced across Bihar and people blame a senior politician for this. Since the liquor is sold in black, the price of liquor is triple that of normal rates forcing many poor to spend more than hey normally would. Lakhs of people have been arrested with very few conviction. Those who arrested included poor shopkeepers. On the other hand, those with with good political connections continue mint money are still selling it at triple the actual rates
What is the Political Impact?
Ground reports suggest that the poor implementation of liquor ban is causing huge anger amongst voters in Bihar. One interesting story that has emerged is that a majority of people who were arrested are from SC-ST and OBC community (Inevitable as they form the majority of population in Bihar).
OBCs are 40 percent of total population and out of which 15% are Yadav. These 15% are committed voters of RJD while the remaining Non-Yadav OBC vote divide betwee BJP and JDU (Kurmis are committed voters of JDU) on the basis on candidates . Non-Yadav OBCs do not trust RJD because Yadav dominance during Lalu’s government. But this time there can be change in equation as some voters perceive a dominance of Kurmis in OBCs due which other Non-Yadav OBCs are not happy. The liquor related cases could be an influencing factor here. The shift as seen in the Crowdwisdom360 surveys towards RJD can only be explained by some OBCs shifting to the RJD.
In Sum, The Nitish government is facing many setbacks on many issues owing to poor implementation of many schemes. This is leading to OBCs abandoning JD(U) but not the BJP. The Road to Pataliputra doesn’t looks easy for “SUSHASHAN BABU” this time.
By Aakash Dwivedi