Election strategist-turned-activist Prashant Kishor on Thursday claimed to have told Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that the state’s much-touted liquor prohibition drive has been a “complete failure”, and in need of a “review”. Kishor, who is in Champaran for preparations of his 3,500-km pada-yatra’ covering the entire state, also said he met Kumar out of “courtesy”.
“I am amused to read reports that I met the CM, secretly, in the thick of night. Our meeting took place on Tuesday, around 4.30 pm. Our common friend Pavan Varma had arranged the meeting, he said, a day after Kumar acknowledged having met the IPAC founder. Kishor, who was an advisor to the chief minister when the latter imposed prohibition in April 2016, said it is his view, shared by many experts that agencies responsible for investigation and prosecution are now busy enforcing the liquor ban, which has taken a toll on law and order.
“Prohibition has been a complete failure, existing only on paper because of rampant corruption. Women, in whose name the drastic measure was taken, are the worst sufferers as they have to do the leg work when their menfolk end up behind bars for flouting the law, said the former JD(U) vice-president. “I told this to the CM as well, while sharing my experiences of the last few months that I have spent touring Bihar. I said the measure must be reviewed (punarvichaar’) without being treated as a matter of aham’ (ego), Kishor said.
Asked about the freak shooting by two motorcycle-borne miscreants at Begusarai, which left one dead and many injured, he said such incidents do confirm fears of those who thought law and order will deteriorate with a change in regime. “But, this has not happened overnight. Law and order was deteriorating even when the BJP was in power, though they may be finding it convenient to raise the matter only now, Kishor said.
Maintaining that the political realignment in Bihar was “state-specific with no national ramifications”, he also said that the seven-party Mahagathbandhan’ needed to deliver on promises like 10 lakh government jobs to catch public imagination. “Unless that happens, mere grouping of parties is not going to find much resonance with the public, said Kishor, who has been blaming all parties which have ruled the state for Bihar’s chronic backwardness. About the controversy surrounding the defiance of state agriculture minister Sudhakar Singh, who belongs to RJD, he said, “I don’t know him personally, but have learnt that he was raising the issue of bureaucratic corruption. That is the state’s most pressing issue, as per my first-hand impression, and all public representatives are bound to feel the heat”. The IPAC founder added that he hopes to make a difference through the Jan Suraaj’ campaign, which might evolve into a political party… I shall confine myself to the role of a sutradhaar’ (initiator), not assuming leadership by election or nomination, Kishor said.