An Aam Aadmi Party candidate for the upcoming Gujarat assembly election landed in a controversy for saying that drinking alcohol is not bad and it is consumed across the world while prohibition is in force only in Gujarat.
Even big doctors, IAS and IPS officers consume liquor, he said, while also cautioning people against getting addicted to it.
The remarks made by Jagmal Vala on Wednesday evening created a controversy, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party seeking an apology from him for "defaming" Gujarat and for promoting alcohol consumption.
Vala, who has been declared as the AAP's candidate for Somnath Assembly seat in Gujarat's Gir Somnath district, made the statements while addressing a public rally during campaigning.
Assembly elections in the state are due by the end of this year.
"There are 196 countries in the world with 800 crore people. In all these 196 countries, there is freedom to consume alcohol. India alone has a population of 130-140 crore, and there is freedom in the whole nation to consume alcohol," Vala said.
"It is only in Gujarat, with a population of 6.5 crore, where alcohol is prohibited. This proves that alcohol is not bad. But alcohol consumes us. It is for us to consume alcohol. If we consume it, then it is not bad. But the only problem is that alcohol consumes us. Otherwise, drink if you have the guts. Big doctors, IAS and IPS officers consume liquor," he added.
Taking objection, state BJP spokesperson Yagnesh Dave issued a video statement saying that Vala should apologise to Gujarat for defaming the state through his remarks.
"What can you expect from a person, whose chief in Delhi is providing liquor abundantly, and whose leader attacks the office of a political party and assaults women in a drunken state. He should first apologise to the entire state," he said.
Dave was referring to the AAP workers' protest at the state BJP headquarters and Delhi government's controversial liquor policy.
The BJP leader said that Vala was defaming Gujarat by talking about lifting liquor prohibition and asking people to consume as much alcohol as they can.
Responding to Dave's statement, Vala defended himself saying he did not ask people to consume liquor.
"People consume liquor in a large quantity in Gujarat despite prohibition. If we give them freedom, then we will get tax money (revenue) and people do not have to pay more for the liquor," he said.
Vala reiterated that alcohol is not bad, but one should not consume as a mark of respect to Mahatma Gandhi and that prohibition should be enforced properly.