Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Thursday said the ruling Congress would consult the churches on the state's liquor policy if the party is voted to power again in the upcoming Assembly election.Liquor has become a contentious issue in Mizoram which goes to polls on November 28 for its 40 Assembly seats to decide who will form the next government in this highly-literate and Christian-majority state.
Mizoram is the only state in the northeastern region under a Congress government.
In a statement, Lal Thanhawla said the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014 was initiated by his government since the total prohibition regime since February 20, 1997, failed to fulfil its desired objective.
Liquor was available abundantly in the state during the past 20 years, he said in the statement.
"If the MLPC Act, 2014 is not good for Mizoram and the people, we would determine our liquor policy by consulting the church," he said.
The MLPC Act had replaced total prohibition and the powerful Presbyterian Church had organised mass prayers in all member churches across the state twice that year against the repeal of the prohibition.
Lal Thanhawla also apologised to church leaders for the statement of former excise and narcotics minister R Lalzirliana that the state government would not consult the church on the liquor policy at the time when the MLPC Bill was being mooted.
The MLPC Act came into force from January 15, 2015, while the first wine shop under the new law was opened on March 16, 2015.
Currently, one requires a permit to buy liquor. One can buy six bottles of hard liquor and 10 bottles of beer or wine in a month, official sources said.While the Congress is against total prohibition, the main opposition MNF wants a complete ban. The BJP has taken a middle path by proposing to ban liquor coming from outside the state and encourage only locally produced ones.