At a time when the Jaganmohan Reddy government in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh has set a deadline of 30 September by which to shut down all 60000-odd illegal liquor belt shops in Andhra Pradesh because they ensure door-to-door delivery of the substance, a ruling party MLA in Tamil Nadu is batting for liquor on wheels. This even as his own AIADMK government is committed to phased prohibition in Tamil Nadu by shutting down a certain percentage of TASMAC shops every year.
U Thaniyarasu, who represents Kangayam assembly constituency in Tiruppur district and is a leader of the Kongu Ilaignar Peravai (a community-based outfit in western Tamil Nadu) asked for mobile sale of liquor through vehicles. In the Tamil Nadu assembly on Friday, the MLA justified his demand by saying it is a matter of life and death for those habituated to liquor.
The Hindu quotes Thaniyarasu as saying, “The government is selling (liquor) and people have decided to drink. So why put them through hardship for getting liquor? I urge the government to ensure easy sale of liquor either by opening more shops or selling liquor through mobile shops.”
The New Indian Express quotes Thaniyarasu as saying, “There is a large crowd in front of TASMAC shops akin to that at cinema theatres. A layman who works for hours has to go to TASMAC shops in his vehicle to buy liquor and consumes there. While returning home, many lose their lives in accidents. To avoid this, liquor can be sold in vehicles.”
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, AM Sheik Davood, an independent candidate incidentally from the Tiruppur Lok Sabha constituency promised to supply 10 litres of liquor, imported from Puducherry to every family in a month, free of cost.
Even within the government, there is considerable sympathy for people accustomed to a regular drink. In March, Milk and Dairy development minister Rajendra Balaji had said the government is not imposing total prohibition in one go to save those habituated to drinking.
“Tipplers will develop health complications including neurological disorders if asked to stop consuming liquor suddenly. That is why the Tamil Nadu government is gradually winding up the TASMAC shops,” said Balaji.