"Within 40 Days...": Chandrababu Naidu's Liquor Promise For Andhra Polls

Telugu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu made a spirited promise before the Lok Sabha and Assembly poll in Andhra Pradesh - to supply good quality liquor at reasonable prices.

'Within 40 Days...': Chandrababu Naidu's Liquor Promise For Andhra Polls

Come any election season in India and liquor flows like water before voting. For example, before five state polls last year, the Election Commission seized alcohol worth Rs 214.8 crore within weeks of the dates being announced. In Andhra Pradesh, however, the post-poll supply of liquor has made headlines - as a pre-poll promise by none less than ex-Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

The Telugu Desam leader made a spirited promise in his home constituency of Kuppam - to supply good quality liquor at reasonable prices if elected to power, both in the Lok Sabha and state polls.

"I am telling you... within 40 days (of his TDP forming the state government) not only quality liquor (but) we will take responsibility for reducing prices (as well)," Mr Naidu declared to voters.

Mr Naidu's pre-poll promise might seem strange but, seen against the backdrop of the ruling YSR Congress' claim (in 2019) of imposing prohibition, it emerges as a calculated move to attract voters who may fancy a drink or two, but might otherwise be loyal to Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The TDP has already launched multiple attacks on Mr Reddy and the YSRCP on this topic.

In November last year, ahead of the election in neighbouring Telangana, the TDP's K Atchannaidu criticised the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister for failing to fulfil a promise made before the 2019 state election. "Liquor has become such a lucrative business... YSRCP government earns a staggering Rs 1.1 lakh crore against Rs 50,000 crore during TDP government," he said at a party event in Vijayawada.

The TDP made an identical attack in 2022 too; party workers staged a massive protest against the YSRCP's "anti-people liquor policy" in Andhra Pradesh's Prakasam district.

Back to the present, and Mr Naidu has also attacked his rival over liquor prices in the state.

"When I was in power you got a quarter (bottle) for Rs 60... now it is sold for Rs 200. So Rs 150 goes into Jagan's pocket. Please realise... you drink a quarter every day, 30 quarters a month... therefore, you are paying Rs 4,500 a month to Jagan," the former Chief Minister declared.

Jagan Mohan Reddy's critics have pointed to this and called out his apparent backtracking on the prohibition promise given increased revenues; the Andhra Pradesh State Beverages Corporation has seen revenue jump from Rs 17,000 crore in 2019/20 to nearly Rs 24,000 crore in 2022/23.

The APSBC Managing Director has emphasised the state government's commitment to reduce liquor consumption, and said liquor prices are as high as they are to discourage consumption.

It isn't just Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP taking aim at the YSR Congress Party.

Mr Naidu's alliance partner, Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena, has targeted distilleries and breweries allegedly controlled by the ruling party and its associates, including those that make local brands.

Mr Kalyan has accused the Chief Minister of earning "thousands of crores selling those brands".

He has also claimed that 74 per cent of total liquor sold was supplied by just 16 companies.

"There are all sorts of brands... even Jagan and YSRCP brands (and) even a 'Power Star' brand, I am told. A person who came to power promising prohibition is earning Rs 40,000 crores from liquor."

The YSR Congress is also under fire from the BJP on this subject.

State unit boss D Purandeswari has slammed the state for "playing with peoples' lives".

"Using liquor, YSRCP leaders are filling their pockets and they are playing with peoples' lives. This is wrong and, as a protest we are doing this..." the BJP leader said, smashing a liquor bottle.

Ms Purandeswari has also demanded a probe into the liquor business in the state, claiming the cheap liquor being sold is causing both major health problems and lining the pockets of YSRCP leaders.

Andhra Pradesh votes on May 13 in both elections. Combined results will be on June 4.

NDTV is now available on WhatsApp channels. Click on the link to get all the latest updates from NDTV on your chat.