CM hard- pressed to scotch rumours that the intoxicating flower will be banned
Amid all the talk of imposition of prohibition in the state ahead of the assembly polls in 2018, there’s been a growing buzz that the tribal areas will also lose their traditional rights to brew spirits at home. Well aware how such speculation can damage the ruling BJP’s electoral prospects, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been forced to hastily clarify.
Rumours had it that the government planned to cut all the mahua trees to enforce prohibition in the state. Tribal households in Madhya Pradesh use the mahua flower to make flour, traditional medicines and kheer with milk. But it is most commonly used to concoct a pungent alcoholic brew that is a staple in the villages. State laws that proscribe brewing or distilling alcohol at home have for the longest time exempted such use of mahua by the tribal communities. So when Chouhan promised prohibition during his ongoing Narmada yatra, he set off panic amid the tribal communities. The CM knew he had to scotch these rumours, and fast. “It is not true,” he told crowds at a subsequent leg of the Narmada Seva Yatra in tribal district Mandla in eastern MP. “I am, in fact, going to plant more mahua trees. I know that you (tribal families) use the flowers to make laddoo, kheer and medicines,” the CM told them, even promising a Rs 30 per kg support price for mahua flowers. Significantly, though, Chouhan chose to gloss over the more heady uses for it. The chief minister’s clarification has yet to trickle down to remote tribal villages like Ranchha Dobha in Umaria district. “We hear that they will cut all the mahua trees, and that worries us,” said tribal resident Sarju Baiga. Tribal communities are spread across several areas in the state with a majority in western and eastern MP. Indeed, 47 of the 230 assembly seats in the state are reserved for tribals. Is it any wonder, then, that Chouhan is concerned?
I DIDN’T SAY THAT CM Chouhan in Mandla during the Narmada Seva Yatra