Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Uma Bharti tied stray cows in front of a liquor shop in Orchha town of Madhya Pradesh and fed them hay as she called upon people to drink cow milk and shun alcohol.
The former chief minister, spearheading a campaign against liquor consumption in the BJP-ruled state, did this on Thursday and maintained that the government should not cash in on the habit of drinking.
Standing in front of the shop selling Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) in Orchha, a town in Niwari district famous for its temples and palaces, after tying the cows, Bharti was heard raising the slogan ”Sharab Nahi, Doodh Piyo (drink milk not liquor)”.
In June last year, the BJP leader had thrown cow dung at the same liquor shop. In March 2022, she had hurled a stone at a liquor shop in Bhopal.
A salesman of the outlet immediately downed its shutters, apparently fearing a repeat of the 2022 incident.
The Hindutva leader said she, too, was to some extent responsible for the prevailing drinking problem and recalled that she had sought votes for the BJP in the 2003 Assembly polls and since then the party has been in power in Madhya Pradesh barring 15 months in 2018-2020 when the Congress ruled the state.
The saffron party leader, who earlier pushed for total prohibition in the state, for the last few months had been seeking regularisation of alcohol sale in Madhya Pradesh, where Assembly polls are due by the year-end.
”Last time, the former Union minister had flung cow dung at this Orchha liquor shop. So this time I downed the shutters of the shop,” salesman Rampal told PTI.
According to the salesman, addressing people who had gathered near the IMFL shop, Bharti said the government should not cash in on the habit of drinking.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a ”courageous” leader, who has accepted that the existing excise policy has some flaws and promised to draft a new one in consultation with yoga guru Ramdev, she told the small gathering, according to Rampal.
In the state capital, Chouhan parried questions from reporters on Bharti’s statements and her anti-liquor campaign.
The Madhya Pradesh government is expected to bring out a new excise policy shortly. Speaking at a Republic Day function, Chouhan had said the new excise policy would discourage drinking.