Reminding the Jagan government that the purchase and sale of liquor was a state subject, BJP Rajya Sabha MP G V L Narasimha Rao on Wednesday stated that the Andhra Pradesh government was solely responsible for reopening liquor stores and that the central government gave only few relaxations for the benefit of the states.
Addressing a press meet, G V L Narasimha Rao said the central government allowed only a few relaxations, but was completely against the sale of liquor in light of the spread of the pandemic. However, all the chief ministers, in their meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had appealed to allow liquor shops to reopen as they are a major revenue generating way for the states. The state heads argued that excise duty on alcohol is one of the biggest revenue earners , and banning its sale at a time when other economic activity has come to a near halt has further aggravated the financial crunch they are facing. “The states had asked the central government for the reopening of liquor stores. Liquor sales is a state subject, the YSRCP ruling in Andhra Pradesh was issuing misleading statements that they had reopened liquor sales on the central government’s directive. This is completely wrong and misleading,” GVL said.
Reacting to the AP government’s decision to hike prices by 75% only to discourage liquor consumption, GVL said if the government was committed to eradicating alcohol in the long-term, the lockdown period was not the right time to impose prohibition in the state of Andhra Pradesh. “If the AP government has reopened liquor stores as part of the central government’s directive, why is that liquor has been banned in the states of Tamil Naidu,” he questioned and sought an answer from the ruling dispensation.
The Jagan government from May 4 allowed standalone shops to sell liquor between 11 am to 7 pm. After being closed for over two months of lockdown, a surge of tipplers raided the shelves at liquor stores and wine shops across the green and orange zones. There was utter chaos across the zones.
Persons visiting the shops will have to maintain social distance of at least six feet, but this norm was violated across the state even as the police tried to regulate the queues. Many of the tipplers were seen without masks, a norm for purchase of alcohol.