A BJP MLA in Bihar on Friday accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of having used objectionable language at a meeting of legislators of the ruling NDA held earlier this week. Nikki Hembrom, who represents the Katoria assembly segment, and is the national secretary of BJP ST Morcha, said she was rebuked when she raised the issue of tribals getting adversely affected by the prohibition law.
“I belong to the Scheduled Tribes and represent a constituency where people have traditionally been involved in brewing Mahua, which has now been outlawed under the prohibition law," she told reporters. “It was my duty to raise the issue of their plight at the NDA legislators’ meeting on Monday. I was shocked by the way the CM spoke. I do not wish to repeat the words he used. I would, instead, prefer the issue raised by me at the meeting to be squarely addressed," said Hembrom.
The MLA also disclosed that she lodged a complaint at the party forum and it is now for my party to take a call on the matter". However, minister Lesi Singh, who belongs to the chief minister’s JD(U), said it was a “misunderstanding" and Kumar was just addressing Hembrom “like a guardian".
“I was present at the meeting. Words can be taken out of context and assigned a meaning different from the one intended," she said. “What the chief minister intended to explain to the MLA was that he has always been sensitive to the needs and aspirations of women, at whose instance he had taken the decision to ban alcohol," she added.
Sale and consumption of alcohol was completely banned in Bihar in April, 2016. The prohibition law, however, has come back to haunt the state government in the wake of recent hooch tragedies that claimed more than 40 lives in four north Bihar districts. A meeting chaired by the chief minister to review implementation of prohibition came out with warnings to police against laxity. The police have since gone in an overdrive, conducting searches at wedding parties and rounding up visitors from other states not aware of the prohibition law, triggering an outcry.
The NDA legislators’ meeting, which was held on the inaugural day of the winter session, saw the CM making all the members take a pledge that they will not consume alcohol and dissuade others from doing so. A similar oath was taken by elected representatives and government officials across the state last week.
However, the government was left with egg on its face when a number of empty liquor bottles were found inside the legislature premises on Tuesday.