AIZAWL, Aug 20 - Promises to ban liquor will become the major poll plank of the opposition parties in the coming Mizoram assembly polls, if the ruling Congress does not make a u-turn on its liquor law.
The main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) has already upped the ante by announcing that it would enforce Prohibition, if voted to power.
The Congress Government in 2015 relaxed the Prohibition, that was imposed in the Christian State for 17 years, with Mizoram Liquor Control and Prohibition Act (MLCP) 2015 that allowed opening of liquor shops in the State.
In a roadshow recently, two MNF MLAs described the Congress liquor policy as a �weapon of mass destruction�, claiming that hundreds of policemen and civilians have died due to liquor after the Congress Government opened liquor shops.
Citing a report of a study team on MLCP, MNF legislator Er Lalrinawma blamed the prevalence of HIV in Mizoram to the opening of liquor shops.
�The study team found that commercial sex workers benefited the most from liquor as their clientele increased. This confirms that opening of liquor shops has much to do with the increased rate of HIV in Mizoram,� Lalrinawma said.
Another MNF legislator Lalruatkima attributed the high death rate in Mizoram to liquor. �Mizoram records 2,400 births compared to 6,000 deaths annually, which is about 25 deaths against 100 births. Why is our death rate so high?� he asked.
He said a study conducted by Kristian Thalai Pawl (Youth wing of Mizoram Presbyterian Church, the largest Christian denomination in the State) showed that death rate is comparatively high among middle-aged men. �According to the study, in every 900 deaths of men, there were only 240 deaths of women. This strongly indicates that the major cause of death among men is liquor. The Congress liquor policy is a factory for widows and orphans,� he said.
�As the Congress Government neither prohibited nor controlled liquor under the Mizoram Prohibition and Control of Liquor Act, liquor has overflowed the State causing troubles everywhere. If the MNF comes to power, it will ban liquor as per the wishes and prayers of the churches and the NGOs,� he said.
MNF chief and former two-time Chief Minister Zoramthanga has also claimed that liquor was the reason for the deaths of over 500 policemen and 5,000 civilians in the State since 2015.
Zoram People�s Movement (ZPM), a conglomeration of smaller political parties, also promised that it would enforce a total ban on liquor by lifting the existing Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) or MLPC Act, 2014, if voted to power.
ZPM convener K Sapdanga, alleged the MLPC Act had severely affected the Mizo society at large. �If we are voted to power, we will consult the various organisations before enforcing the ban,� Sapdanga said.