The death of former MLA Gurusharan Chhabra, who was on fast unto death demanding complete prohibition of liquor and strengthening of Lokpal, triggered a blame game between BJP and Congress whose leaders held each other responsible for the Gandhian leader’s demise. Political parties and media are using the death for their own benefits. Where were they when he was on hunger strike? Why they were not present there when he was aggressively fighting for these issues. How many party leaders visited him and offered their support while he was on the strike? I bet no one. Shame on you leaders for this type of blame game for cheap publicity. MLA Chhabra, the 65-year-old anti-liquor crusader, was on fast since October 2. He had been admitted to SMS hospital and was in coma for the last couple of days. Chhabra’s life could have been saved if CM Vasundhara Raje had intervened to get the agitation called off. He was protesting against sale and consumption of liquor and was demanding strengthening of Lokayukta in Rajasthan. Chhabra had revived his fast after Rajasthan government failed to implement its commitments made to him in an agreement in May. He sacrificed his life for public service. If only someone from the government had reached out to him he could have been saved. This is very unfortunate and will be remembered as a case in Rajasthan’s history when a man had to sacrifice his life for the sake of public interest instead of personal interest.
Anyway, BJP never cared for people and their sentiments. Vasundhara is known for her arrogance and unapproachable attitude. Raje-led BJP government “solely responsible” for Chhabra’s death, the state government and its CM ignored Chhabra and his demands which ultimately led to his demise. It is very unfortunate that a Gandhian leader died due to anshan (hunger strike). The Rajasthan government had promised to look into his demand but no step was initiated.
Chhabra was a Janata Dal MLA from 1977 to 1980. He later joined the BJP, but quit active politics in 1992. Now after his demise, Vasundhara Raje is silent on the issue. A great loss to the state of Rajasthan. The CM is very high headed, she is enjoying the majority offered to her by people to form the government and does not think about anything else happening in the state. He made a nominal demand of bringing the CM office under the Lokayukta. However, she cannot do that because she herself and her ministers are corrupt.
Meanwhile, after the death of Gurusharan Chhabra, Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said that a complete ban on liquor in the state is “not practical.” The ban would give rise to liquor mafia. In 1981, the state had to roll back prohibition as it led to the emergence of mafia. Rathore said that it is also “a matter of Rs. 6,000 crore revenue to the state. However, he forgets that the biggest prostitution racket is run in Rajasthan after West Bengal. Young girls are pushed into prostitution here and men of the family are addicted to liquor consumption.
In 2014-15, the Rajasthan excise department reported revenue of Rs. 5,585.76 crore. Over the last three financial years, the department registered an increase in revenue of 21.32 per cent, 24.92 per cent and 12.13 per cent (2014-15), respectively. In 2013-14, the per capita revenue earned from excise in the state was Rs. 726.22 (calculated with 2011 census) and per capita annual consumption of country liquor was 2.40 bulk litres, per capita annual consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) was 1.38 bulk litres and per capita annual consumption of beer was 2.34 bulk litres. Rathore said that the state and Chhabra had reached an agreement last year, claiming that over 90 per cent of the demands to “control liquor” had been accepted by the state. “The demand for a strong Lokayukta was pending but for that too, the committee, constituted to compare the Rajasthan Lokayukta with 11 states where it is much more powerful, is expected to submit its report in a fortnight. Meanwhile, Chhabra’s son Gaurav Chhabra said his family would follow in his footsteps and sit on hunger strike in front of the Chief Minister residence if the government does not follow up on its promises made to him. “They lack a strong will to implement a ban. Vasundhara Raje contested Assembly elections on the Gujarat model, where liquor is banned, and now they feel banning liquor here will lead to creation of mafia ignoring that the most of the heinous crimes, such as rape of children are increasing in the state.
Most points it mentioned were either implemented during the previous rule of the Congress government or are followed as per directions of courts. Government maintained that it has issued the circular for transferring half the salary of government employees, who are addicted to alcohol, to their wives’ accounts. This circular, however, was issued during the Congress government rule in 2013. Though, the BJP government to its credit simplified it by reducing consensus of two-third to 50 per cent in voting. Putting warning signs on liquor bottles, which government claim was initiated by them was already in practice. “Gurusharan Chhabra wanted the implementation of Rajan committee report, which was presented in 2013. Some of the provisions were implemented earlier while remaining was implemented as per agreement with Chhabra. However, this has not stopped the state government from taking credit for the work which was already done earlier. As per the existing excise rules, the vigilance at borders is mandatory to stop the transfer of liquor from one state to another. The state government even included this point in the list of 90 per cent promises fulfilled by it.