THERE'S an apocryphal but credible enough story doing the rounds in Rewari, Haryana, about the prohibition days. Police sniffer dogs were once let loose in this liquor-loving land to detect hidden liquor loads. The dogs went round and round till they fell down dizzy with the smell of Bacchus brew coming from every direction.
Last week, on March 19, a storm-faced Bansi Lal, veteran politician and Haryana chief minister, announced the withdrawal of prohibition in the state. Also, the opening of 1,000 liquor vends to mop up an estimated Rs 1,000 crore in excise revenue. Orders effective: April 1, All Fools Day.
All Fools Day, yes. But a fool's action this wasn't. Bansi Lal was revoking a populist measure—one he rode to electoral victory on last time—on realising it had become unpopular and was in fact responsible for the humiliating electoral reverses his Haryana Vikas Party faced this time.
In revoking prohibition, he was responding to a vastly changed context where the very pro-prohibition women's lobby that...