CHENNAI: The latest buzzword in Tamil Nadu politics is prohibition. With major political parties in the state, including the DMDK, PMK and BJP, jumping on to the prohibition bandwagon, it is well likely to be a key campaign issue in the assembly elections.
Citing the recent case of a four-year-old child being forced to consume alcohol, DMDK chief Vijayakanth and PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss demanded total prohibition in the state, accusing the government of milking the liquor industry for maximum gains even while bread winners turned alcoholic and families were affected.
In a statement, Anbumani alleged the liquor policies of the AIADMK and DMK governments were the reason for the latest case. “The average age of those consuming alcohol has come down from 40 years to 13. About 32% of boys below 15 years are consuming alcohol. Similarly, little more than 10% of girls, who were below 15 were addicted to alcohol,” Anbumani, who is also party’s youth wing president, alleged.
While demanding stringent action against those who forced the child to consume alcohol, Anbumani said the state government should be held responsible. “Both the parties should apologise to the people of Tamil Nadu,” he said. The PMK has been demanding total prohibition for a long time and its recent public protest in Salem, Dharmapuri and a few other towns attracted a large number of women.
Vijaykanth too has urged the government to shut down all Tasmac shops (liquor retail units run by the government) and impose total prohibition in the state. The BJP state unit has announced a protest in front of Tasmac shops across the state on July 10 to demand total prohibition.
The state intelligence has sent a note to the government suggesting it was likely to gain from prevailing voter sentiment, particularly women, if Tasmac shops were closed in a phased manner. This would help shore up the AIADMK’s fortunes ahead of the 2016 assembly elections, they suggested.
The reports sent by intelligence agencies have also pointed to the large number of women at protest meetings organized by the PMK in the districts against total prohibition. A senior minister, seeking anonymity, admitted there was growing demand from women for total prohibition. “We believe Amma is likely to take positive steps towards this,” he said.