Patna: Lalu Prasad, whose RJD is a major ally of the ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar, has advised habitual drinkers to consume "toddy", locally called "tadi", to avoid incidents like the hooch tragedy that has killed 16 people.
Lalu, who described the hooch tragedy in Gopalganj as a 'heart wrenching incident', said in his own style: "Sarab bandi ke baad ab jo milega jahrila hi milega. Aisi ghatna se sabak le, jaruri ho to tadi piyen. (After the liquor ban what you get will be poisonous. Draw a lesson from this, and if necessary drink toddy)".
For hundreds of thousands of people in rural Bihar toddy is considered the poor man's beer and regarded as natural juice. For ages, toddy has been a favourite of villagers as a natural drink from the palm tree.
Soon after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced total prohibition in the state from April 5, 2016, a large number of people, including alcoholics, thronged toddy shops after the government banned "desi" or, country-made liquor as well as foreign made liquor.
But later the state government also banned the sale of toddy, which was opposed by the people, including by Lalu as well as the opposition BJP and its allies.
According to RJD leaders, Lalu was not in favour of banning toddy. Lalu Prasad as Chief Minister in the early '90s had declared toddy tax-free in Bihar to help the people engaged in the business, particularly the 'Pasi' caste Dalits.
However, last month in view of increasing pressure from main ally RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar decided to lift the ban on the sale and consumption of toddy.
The move was welcomed by the people.
Toddy is cheap and easily available at roadside shops and open fields in the morning and evening in rural areas. It is also available in urban localities.