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Basu backs liquor shop rethink

Calcutta, Dec. 13: The Trinamul Congress, as well as the RSP and the Forward Bloc, have found an unexpected ally in former chief minister Jyoti Basu in their crusade against the government’s move to open nearly 3,000 liquor off-shops across Bengal to raise excise revenue.

“I have learnt that some people are protesting against the proposed opening of liquor off-shops. The grievances may be genuine and I also feel that there should not be many liquor shops in the state. This is a serious issue and we must not lose sight of the critical observations of our coalition partners,” Basu said today.

The former chief minister told The Telegraph that he had not allowed such things during his tenure as chief minister.

“I am leaving for Delhi tomorrow to attend the party’s politburo and central committee meetings. There I must discuss it with Buddha (chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) and Anil (CPM state secretary Anil Biswas). Like in Andhra Pradesh, we cannot allow the opening of liquor off-shops just for enhancing excise revenue,” Basu said.

The former chief minister said liquor off-shops have to be opened under certain rules. “We have to ensure that there is no educational institution or hospital in the area where off-shops are being opened,” he said.

Bloc state secretary Ashoke Ghosh, buoyed by Basu’s support, said tonight that the government must roll back the decision. “We are happy that Basu himself is opposed to the idea of opening off-shops,” he added.

RSP leader Sunil Sengupta said the opening of liquor shops to enhance excise revenue would tarnish the Front’s image.

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