30 July, Patna
Following pressure from its main ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the Bihar government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday took a U-turn by lifting the ban on the sale and consumption of toddy in the state.
Bihar Excise and Prohibition Minister Abdul Jalil Mastan told media here that there will be no ban on sale and consumption of toddy in the state.
“Ban on toddy has been lifted,” Mastan said.
In April after Bihar imposed a total liquor ban in the state, it also banned the sale of ‘toddy’. But the decision to banned toddy was not lauded by Lalu Prasad and his party Rashtriya Janata Dal.
According to RJD leaders here, Lalu was not in favour to ban toddy.
“In last three and half months, Lalu has publicly expressed his displeasure over the government decision to ban toddy and urged the government to lift the ban and make it free as it was introduced during his tenure as Chief Minister in early 90s,” a leader close to Lalu said.
Lalu Prasad as Chief Minister had declared toddy tax-free in Bihar to help people engaged in the business, particularly the ‘Pasi’ caste.
For millions of people in rural Bihar — where toddy, locally called ‘tadi’, is considered the poor man’s beer — the ban came as bad news. For ages, toddy has been a favourite of villagers as a natural drink from the palm tree.