Shop till you drop on the last weekend before Puja, but you won’t get a drop to drink unless you have stocked up.
Sunday’s byelection to the Bhowanipore Assembly seat that Mamata Banerjee is contesting has left almost the entire city dry without a high for 48 hours, starting 5pm on Friday. Salt Lake could have been an oasis, but the bypoll in Basirhat North has made North 24-Parganas out of bounds as well.
Sale of liquor can legally continue in South 24-Parganas, though the weekend crowd looking for alternatives to party street won’t find much of an option there.
According to an official, there was nothing unusual in an entire city going dry because of an election in one part of it. “The model code of conduct is applicable to the entire district even if only one constituency is going to poll. We have two bypolls on Sunday, so it’s logical for almost the whole city coming under a temporary liquor ban,” he said.
The dry spell is, in fact, set to continue in fits and starts till the end of Puja. The restriction will be back on September 28 for counting of votes and on October 2 for Gandhi Jayanti, which coincides with Sashthi.
October 4 and 6 (Ashtami and Dashami) could be partial dry days with the excise department sending a notice to hotels, restaurants and pubs, saying they can only open at 4pm on those days. Nightclubs would need to apply for a special licence. The curfew hour hasn’t been finalised yet.
Vikram Puri of Plush, the nightclub at Astor, said party places would be hit hard by the restrictions during the festive period.
“Until almost mid-September, we had no idea that the entire month we would have to close by midnight. We had gigs but we cancelled them, which not only means revenue loss but also loss of face,” he told Metro.
Sovan Mukherjee of Nocturne, the nightclub on Shakespeare Sarani, said a liquor ban was tantamount to shutting down a party place. “Tell me, who will come to party? Sales get affected by 85-90 per cent without alcohol. This month has been really bad,” he rued.
Nitin Kohli, of Shisha, said: “We have done barely 30 per cent of the business we usually do at this time of the year.”
Model Jessica Gomes, who was planning to party with friends this weekend, said the liquor ban couldn’t have come at a worse time. “People are quite upset! This is the last weekend before the Pujas,” she griped.