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Many regional political parties are joining the prohibition bandwagon in Tamil Nadu

DMK shuns liquor a political gambit to win over women voters Left: Facebook/Kalaignar Karunanidhi
news Sunday, August 23, 2015 - 17:23

   
Not once, not twice, prohibition has been talked about, implemented, and withdrawn by the governments of the day many times over in Tamil Nadu. Politics around prohibition has been a recurring theme in Tamil Nadu, but this is the first that time that a party has made it a part of their election promise.
 
  Other regional parties in Tamil Nadu like the PMK and MDMK have been supporting the prohibition, but it was M Karunanidhi’s announcement to shun liquor if DMK came to power, that came as a surprise. In a State where women voters outnumber men, DMK seems to be making a strategic move.
 
The party is trying to take a leaf out of AIADMK's books by wooing women voters who have been a major source of support for the ruling party from the time of M G Ramachandran, the founder of the party. Prohibition does draw a lot of traction being an emotive issue for the women voters since they bear the brunt of economic and social costs of drinking.

A lot of women have turned up in support to DMK’s protests to ban alcohol. A recent such protest organized by DMK’s women wing in Kanchipuram in which majority of the participants were women explains party’s strong and new found antipathy to liquor.
 
 It is at this time many political parties in Tamil Nadu are talking about banning liquor, a topic that hasn't been given much importance in the last 30 years except by social welfare organisations. 

Even as the DMK is at the forefront, nurturing the anti - liquor sentiment, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has been quiet.

“The possible reason for the State government keeping mum is because the protesting political parties would take the credit if the government goes ahead with the prohibition. But we can expect the government to time its decision so that the party in power would gain politically out of this issue." Said Gnani, a political analyst to The News Minute.
 
  Many times in the past prohibition has been implemented only to be withdrawn owing to deaths or other problems that follow. 
 
  "If DMK gets elected and goes back on the promise that could be politically incorrect. No political party would risk their reputation with such a sensitive social issue." adds Gnani”.
 
 This year, 25% of the Tamil Nadu government's revenue came from State run liquor shops. The Tamil Nadu Finance minister has announced that this would increase by Rs. 5000 crores the next year. 
 
Manuraj Shanmugasundaram, a DMK Spokesperson points out a few reasons why the DMK has latched on to the issue. 
 
  First, many women centric groups are protesting for the prohibition of the free flow of alcohol as it has increased the percentage of domestic violence.
 
 Second, according to a study, the age of first use of alcohol has come down to 14 years from 19 years a decade ago, as out of the 7000 government run liquor shops in the  State, many of them are near schools, which exposes children to the habit at an early stage. This has been validated by a recent protest by a Kanyakumari based activist, Sasi Perumal who forced the police to close down an outlet that the government promised but failed to close down as the shop was next to a primary school." said Shanmugasundaram.
 
 Third, the National Crime Records Bureau data says that in the last six years there have been 1100 deaths in TN because of spurious liquor which is a problem in the State despite the free-flow of liquor.


 When asked about how the DMK would plan to implement considering the revenue loss for the State, the DMK spokesperson told The News Minute "the party might set up a committee that would help select the best strategy that would suit TN. It is not only that the State would lose a large amount of revenue, but a lot is at stake. If the DMK comes to power and regulates sales of liquor then it also has to rehabilitate the persons employed in government run liquor shops."
 
 "There are possibilities that people accept to self-regulate consumption and refrain from voting for DMK, but this will not stop the party from paying attention to moral sentiments of people." Shanmugasundarm added.​

 

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