The AIADMK and BJP pointed out that Stalin himself had staged protests against the reopening of TASMAC outlets, when he was in the opposition last year.

People standing in a queue to purchase liquorImage for representation
news Coronavirus Saturday, June 12, 2021 - 16:22

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday extended the lockdown till June 21 and announced further relaxations in 27 districts of the state. As part of the relaxations, the DMK-led government has permitted the functioning of TASMAC shops between 10 am and 5 pm. However, this move has drawn flak as several political parties including the AIADMK and BJP pointed to the risk of coronavirus spreading at TASMAC shops and also pointed to earlier protests by DMK against the move, when they were in the opposition.

The AIADMK through their official twitter handle said, “‘Tamil Nadu government should shut down TASMAC liquor shops. Are TASMAC shops required while people are dying of infection? Do not open TASMAC shops that will bring law and order problems and affect the lives of people.’ MK Stalin, you raised these slogans last year, so what is your answer now?" The tweet was posted with a video of Stalin holding placards during a black flag protest held against the reopening of TASMAC shops during the lockdown. 

Quoting another tweet of MK Stalin where he criticised reopening the state-run shops as ‘inhumane’ last year, the AIADMK asked, "After knowing the role of TASMAC in spreading coronavirus and that it is inhumane to reopen them, why is Stalin permitting to reopen the shops? To affect whose lives?”

Similarly, along with the video of the protest from last year, BJP leaders from Tamil Nadu also condemned the decision of the state government. Taking to Twitter, BJP leader K Annamalai said, "Opening of TASMAC shops from June 14 shows us a couple of things including the priorities of this government over a common man’s welfare and the promises of DMK when they were in the opposition (against TASMAC) and the all the drama they did then. Complete somersault today."

PMK founder Ramadoss, who was also opposing the reopening of state-run liquor shops said, “Tamil Nadu government's permission to reopen TASMAC between 10 am and 5 pm is condemnable. Coronavirus cases are reducing step by step in the past four days and with that scenario, reopening TASMAC will lead only to increasing cases.”

“The government on one hand has announced Rs 2,000 as assistance and on another hand tries to get back the same by reopening the TASMAC shops. How is this right? Can the DMK, which condemned reopening TASMAC last year, do the same this year?  Even after a change in rule, the scene hasn’t changed!” he said.

The PMK founder said that the government should use this time to implement total liquor prohibition. He said, “Reopening these shops will reduce the revenue earned by the underprivileged. This will lead to poverty and abuse will also increase in these families. To stop this, TASMAC shops should not be opened and a state-wide liquor prohibition should be implemented.” 

In May 2020, DMK president Stalin, with his son and DMK youth wing president Udhayanidhi Stalin, wore black clothes and held black flags as a form of protest against the then AIADMK-led government's decision to allow the opening of TASMAC shops. After the protest, Stalin said, "It is inhumane to not worry about the people who will be infected due to the opening of the liquor shops and be concerned only about the revenue of the government."

In May last year, Tamil Nadu government reopened the TASMAC shops after the Supreme Court gave the nod. Initially, the Madras High Court ordered closure of TASMAC shops due to lack of COVID-19 etiquettes maintained at the shops. The High Court allowed only online sales and home delivery in the state. However, the state government appealed to the Supreme Court stating that online sale of liquor was impossible in the entire state.

Following this, the Supreme Court on May 15 stayed the Madras HC order to shut liquor shops and permitted the AIADMK government to reopen the state-run liquor outlets. However, AIADMK after reopening the outlets, received flak from parties like DMK, AMMK and several others.