Mahatma Gandhi’s Gujarat is a dry State, but Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel, known to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, seems to know the rates of country liquor that flows easy in the State.
At a function in Ahmedabad’s labour-dominated Bapunagar area on Monday evening, where she inaugurated an MLA office, she asked the audience: “You must be drinking potli [country liquor packaged in small polythene bags] everyday… does it cost Rs. 20 per packet? How many packets do you consume everyday?”
A few from the crowd, comprising mostly labourers, shouted: “Five potli.”
The senior Cabinet Minister responded: “So you waste Rs. 100 a day, that means Rs. 3,000 a month and Rs. 36,000 a year. But still you must be getting sleepless nights for fear that the [Ahmedabad Municipal] Corporation officials will demolish your illegal construction.”
The Hindu is in possession of the video of the Minister’s function.
Ms. Patel exhorted the audience to pay Rs. 2,000 impact fees and get their illegal constructions regularised.
The government has imposed various rates of “impact fees” on those who wish to get their illegal construction legalised.
Ms. Patel went a step further. “No Minister will advise you this, but I am doing so. Even if you have 10 metres of illegal construction, show just two metres on paper, after all it is self-assessment. In any case, we don’t have enough staff to come and check if what you have furnished is correct or false.”
She then told the crowd that it was in their interest to pay up the impact fees, whatever amount it might be.
The Gujarat Government had introduced a Bill proposing capital punishment or life imprisonment for manufacturing and peddling illicit liquor in the aftermath of a hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad city in 2009 that left over 140 people dead.
But it is public knowledge that country liquor flows easily throughout the State and is consumed mostly by labourers, who cannot afford illicit Indian-made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) that is also known to be available there.