Rajasthan Chief Minister backtracks on pub culture statement

January 29th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyJaipur, Jan 29 (IANS) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has backtracked on his statement criticising “pub and mall culture”, issuing a clarification late Wednesday night after the remark created controversy in the state.The chief minister, while talking to media on Wednesday, said he was “against boys and girls walking hand-in-hand in pubs and malls.”

However, later on Wednesday, Gehlot issued a written statement, claiming that he was ‘misquoted’ in the media, and his move to end the pub culture in the state had nothing to do with the Mangalore incident.

“I criticise what happened in Mangalore,” he added.

Gehlot said his government wanted to put an end to the liquor culture that was propagated by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. “It harmed social and cultural values of the state and we would not promote such a culture,” he said.

“Because of this liquor culture, over 6,000 cases of rape were reported in the state when the BJP government was in power. There were incidents of rape against foreign tourists in the state also. We do not want this to happen”, he added.

Gehlot, while giving details of the state’s new excise policy, had said that his government has ordered closure of liquor shops near temples and parks.

“The effort made to bring the young generation closer to the liquor culture will be reversed. I want to end the pub and mall culture where young boys and girls roam about hand-in-hand,” he had said.

The chief minister announced his government has decided that the number of country-made and foreign liquor shops in the urban areas would be reduced from 1800 to 1000, while the bar license fees of restaurants and hotels would be hiked and value added tax (VAT) at the rate of 20 percent would be imposed on the country-made foreign liquor and beer.

It was decided that one percent revenue, about Rs.220 million, from the excise earnings would be spent on the treatment of poor, social and economic rehabilitation of the people engaged in making illegal liquor, displaying on public notice boards the adverse affects of liquor, and on organising anti-liquor campaigns with the cooperation of voluntary organisations.

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