Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today hit back at Opposition for criticising the state government over toddy ban issue, saying no such decision has been taken and accused it of “provoking” the Pasi community involved in the toddy business.
“Like environmental pollution, people (politicians of different parties) are making ideological pollution. They are trying to provoke a community in the name of toddy,” Kumar said.
He, however, made it clear that there was no ban on toddy and the state government was following the 1991 guidelines, which prohibits sale of toddy within 50 m of educational institutions, temples, hospital, bazaars and haats among others and the same within 100 m in rural areas.
Kumar was addressing a gathering of Vikas Mitras for whom a workshop on ‘Complete Prohibition in Bihar’ was organised by the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Department on 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar.
Coming down heavily on politicians for attacking him in the name of Pasi community, Kumar said they were not their benefactors and were only indulging in politics.
“They (leaders) want that people from Pasi community, traditionally occupied in toddy business, to always climb palm trees and never earn their name by educating themselves,” Kumar said, reminding people a hooch tragedy last year was the result of spurious toddy, blended with urea.
“Now these people (leaders) are advocating toddy just for the sake of politicising the issue,” he said.
Kumar’s assertion came in the wake of the criticism by different political parties and its leaders for his decision to enforce a complete prohibition in the state from April 5 that also included strict adherence to the 1991 guidelines.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi yesterday charged Nitish Kumar of targeting the Pasi community by arresting them for selling toddy. “When there is no ban on sale of toddy under the Bihar Excise Act, then on what ground Principal Secretary (Excise) K K Pathak has directed the district officials to crackdown on sale of toddy?” he had asked.
BJP’s alliance partner and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had termed Nitish Kumar as an “enemy of the Pasi community and that’s why the CM has banned toddy.”
“On the advise of IAS officer K K Pathak, Nitish Kumar has banned toddy in the state. Both Nitish and Pathak are enemies of Pasi community. Even doctors prescribe toddy, which is natural juice and banning the palm tree product is like inflicting torture on SC category people,” Manjhi said at a toddy sellers protest here on Monday last.