October 31, 2016
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s reluctance to go in for total prohibition, in a way endorsed by Supreme Court judgment overturning Bihar government’s liquor ban was re-endorsed by Tamil Nadu tipplers, who spent a whopping Rs 358 crore during Diwali weekend on the spirits that cheer.
Jayalalithaa, who had rejected the demand for total prohibition in January but gave in a wee bit on the eve of elections promising phased prohibition, had closed some 500 TASMAC shops as the first step towards introduction of phased introduction of prohibition.
She however refrained from giving out any schedule or road map for the prohibition, save for the occasional orders closing down some 500 TASMAC outlets. But those that are open do roaring business and secure in the knowledge that prohibition is a thing of past.
No government in the past had let go of the cash cow of liquor sales, that rakes in lot of revenue to the state coffers. DMK had promised total prohibition if it came to power. But, clearly, Tamil Nadu’s tipplers had the last laugh when Amma retained her hold over the state, in a repeat victory that no other chief minister in three decades could manage, sending spirits of the bachus higher.
Which was evident in Diwali sales – that touched the Rs 358 crore mark – when the money was counted Sunday night.
On Saturday evening, on Diwali day, sales at TASMAC outlets touched Rs 135 crore while on Friday the sales were off Rs 108 crore. On Sunday, Diwali hangover saw sales of Rs 115 crore. There are over 6200 TASMAC shops in Tamil Nadu. On normal days, the sales are of Rs 55 crore to Rs 65 crore which on weekends can touch Rs 100 crore mark.
But Diwali is another occasion, when everyone splurges on many things and addicts stick to their favourite spirits.
At a rough estimate, every day, some 70 lakh people consume liquor in Tamil Nadu.