Chhattisgarh BJP MLA Krishnamurti Bandhi has suggested that the use of bhang and cannabis be encouraged as alternatives to liquor for addiction, claiming that persons hooked on these substances hardly commit offences like rape, murder and dacoity.
The legislator's statement, which he had made while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme in the State's Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi district on Saturday, triggered a row with the ruling Congress questioning how a public representative can promote addiction.
The sale and consumption of cannabis are banned under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, while that of bhang, an edible mixture made using leaves of the cannabis plant, is permitted under the law, officials said.
Replying to a query about the Congress's poll promise of a liquor ban in the state, Dr. Bandhi, who represents the Masturi Assembly constituency, said, "We have earlier raised the issue in the State Assembly and it will again be raised on July 27 as discussion on the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition BJP (in the assembly against Congress government) is scheduled that day."
“…It is my personal opinion and once I had discussed it in the assembly in the past. I had been told that somewhere alcohol is the reason for rape, murder and quarrel, but I asked (in the House) to tell me whether a person who consumes bhang has ever committed rape, murder and dacoity?... To meet the addiction requirement and ban liquor, a committee has been constituted (in the State).
"The committee should think how we can move ahead towards bhang and ganja (cannabis). If people want addiction, then they should be served such stuff which does not result in murder, rape and other offences. It is my personal opinion," he said.
Reacting to the MLA's statement, Congress's Bilaspur district unit spokesperson Abhay Narayan Rai on Sunday said how Mr. Bandhi, who is three-time MLA and former State health minister, can give such a statement to promote addiction instead of suggesting ways to free society of it.
"Option to addiction cannot be an addiction. Such immature ideas are unacceptable in a civilised society," Mr. Rai added.
Meanwhile, when asked about the legislator's remark, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday said addiction in any form is not good. He also took a dig at the MLA saying that if he wanted ganja to be legalised in the country, then he should make the demand with the Centre.
"...When central agencies are roaming in Mumbai to seize 10-gram ganja, its (BJP) senior leader is saying ganja should be consumed. Ganja is banned and he should first demand its government at the Centre to allow it (if he wants its consumption). See, addiction in any form is not good," the CM told reporters at the airport in Raipur, where he returned from Delhi.