You know it is election time when a politician suddenly wakes up to something that some people have been saying for quite some time. No, it's not epiphany; it's simply known as politicking. Or, in layman's terms, just pandering to a particular voting demographic.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, after giving complete freehand to liquor barons for the last ten years leading to a sharp surge in the emergence of liquor shops at every corner, every block, and every Panchayat so much so as to earn over Rs. 2,500 crore per annum through various kinds of taxes, in an attempt to woo women voters in the 2015 Assembly elections, promised to impose prohibition in Bihar if he was re-elected to a third term.
This is the same Nitish Kumar who as recently as 2012, was all gung ho on setting up beer factories in the state.
According to the Economic Times dated January 16, 2012, Bihar was keen on inviting brewers to set up their plants in the state.
"Big investments are coming up in this sector. In the coming years we will emerge as a big player in brewery business," said C.K. Mishra, principal secretary, department of industries, Bihar.
He said major domestic and foreign brewery firms are in the process to set up new production units in the state.
"Three major firms - United Breweries, Danish Brewery Company Carlsberg Group and Cobra Beer - are in the process to set up new units and will start production this year," Mishra told reporters. Mishra was in Jaipur to attend the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual congregation of the Indian diaspora.
Vijay Mallya-promoted United Breweries (UB), which controls nearly half of India's beer market, is setting up a new unit near Bihar capital Patna.
"Construction on the new unit has already started," said Mishra.
United Breweries is also setting up a production unit to make litchi-flavoured wine. The company has leased litchi gardens and is setting up processing units in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
So what has changed since 2012? Did Nitish Kumar just wake up to the fact that alcohol leads to domestic violence? Could it be that all the brewers decided to back out for obvious reasons? Or could it be that he is just too desperate to win the election and will do and say anything to remain in power even if it means imposing prohibition in Bihar or joining hands with his former foe Lalu Prasad Yadav?
You be the judge.