Assam is a state in northeastern India, situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. In 2011 the state had a total population of 31,169,272 people.
Assam has Governor Jagdish Mukhi as the head of the state, the unicameral Assam Legislative Assembly of 126 members, and a government led by the Chief Minister of Assam.
The BJP, or Indian People’s Party, is one of two major political parties in India, along with the Indian National Congress. It is currently the ruling political party of the Republic of India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions.
Cheap alcohol as election bribe
Two months ahead of the Assam State Assembly Election, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is using cheaper alcohol through alcohol tax cuts to bribe voters
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many Indian state governments increased taxes on alcohol.
The cuts to taxes in Assam would lead to a 25% reduction in alcohol prices.
As India is still facing the pandemic and only in the early stages of vaccinating the public, making alcohol cheaper is a disastrous move.
One of the first steps of the Indian state governments when COVID-19 lockdown was relaxed was re-opening alcohol sales. The move showed the problematic dependence of Indian state governments on alcohol tax revenue. Along with re-opening many governments had to impose higher taxes on alcohol to dissuade people who were crowding alcohol outlets, thus risking new coronavirus outbreaks.
Alcohol’s death toll in India before COVID-19 was high to begin with. In 2017, the products and practices of the alcohol industry caused more than 580,000 deaths in India, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study. The three leading causes of alcohol attributable deaths in India are tuberculosis, road injuries, and self-harm. All of these conditions have an existing large burden in India and increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Alcohol is known to weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to viral infections such as COVID-19. Doctors have also advised to refrain from using alcohol before and after being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The Assam government actions to use cheap alcohol to sway voters shows blatant disregard for public health and well-being in the pursuit of political power.