Demonetisation, announced on November 8, 2016, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have hit the liquor trade hard in Odisha but the sales in the recent times have shot up, thanks to the ongoing panchayat polls in the state. The liquor trade had taken a severe beating following the scrapping of high value Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes but the sale has gone up in the recent times in Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts since panchayat poll process was set in motion on February 1. “Sales had dipped after November 8 announcement but it has gone up by at least five times now. We used to sell liquor worth Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 a day but now, due to polls, it touches Rs 2 lakh a day.
“This rise is certainly due to the polls as liquor has become a tool to induce voters. The bonanza would soon fizzle out after the polling is over,” an Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) stockist said on the condition of anonymity.
“Liquor sales had gone up during 2014 general elections as well but the rising graph this time is much higher in the ongoing panchayat polls. Sizeable chunk of our new clients are youths between 18-25 age group,” another IMFL licensed shop-owner said.
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An official of Excise department said that “feedback from licensed shops show rise in IMFL sales. However, the ratio of rise can be ascertained only after sale figures are submitted by shop owners at the end of the month.”
Meanwhile, the rise in sales has also led to the seizure of liquor, both IMFL and country spirit, in various parts of this coastal district.
“All candidates, including those backed by political parties, took recourse to liquor freebies to get votes. Excise personnel were alerted about the matter which led to seizures of liquors, meant for polls,” Raghunath Acharya, a resident of Karanja village said.
At least 40 cases of seizure of illicit liquor came to light since the enforcement of the model code of conduct (MCC). Nearly, 5,000 litre of illicit IMFL meant for free distribution to poll-bound areas have been seized so far, Excise Superintendent Dhananjay Swain said.
Two excise constables were injured following attack by liquor mafias in which 1,500 bottles of IMFL were seized, Swain said.
Adequate security measures with multi-disciplinary squads comprising excise, police and civil officials have been formed to stop the distribution of illicit liquor during the panchayat polls, he said.