Karnataka: Gram panchayat elections trigger spike in liquor sales | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: As Karnataka continues to figure out how to generate revenue amid Covid-19, government restrictions on New Year celebrations are a dampener. However, the upcoming gram panchayat elections are a boon for the excise department.
Over 20 days in December, the department raked in Rs 1,800 crore compared to Rs 1,100 for the corresponding period in 2019. Liquor is reportedly flowing freely as 5,762 panchayats go to the polls in two phases on December 22 and 27.

Although elections are not fought on party lines, all major parties are betting hard on them as they help strengthen the cadre base. The poll notifications were issued on December 7 and 11 and activities started peaking which coincided with a spike in liquor sales.
“Normally, liquor sales in urban and rural areas is 60:40, with Bengaluru taking the lion’s share. However, there’s a change this month as most seems to be in rural areas where campaigning is at its peak,” said KS Shivaiah, joint excise director (statistics).
About 40 lakh carton boxes of Indian-Made Liquor (each box contains 8.7 litres) have been sold this month (till December 20) compared to 27 lakh carton boxes in the same period last year.
The monthly average of revenue from liquor sales is Rs 2,000 crore with 50 lakh carton boxes being sold. It was expected to be up at least 30% in December, thanks to Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Excise officials say they may exceed the target this December due to the polls. “It could touch 60 lakh boxes by month-end,” said an excise official.
Given pandemic restrictions, house parties are expected to be the norm and sales at retail shops are expected to be higher compared to pubs and bars. “The loss of pubs and bars is going to be the gain for retail shops,” said Rajesh Thanniseri, marketing manager, Big Pitcher.
KS Lokesh, managing director, retail liquor chain Madhuloka, said: “We’ve seen a 20% spike in sales at our outlets already and it could go up from December 24.”
Besides the surge in legitimate sales, hoarding and distribution of illegal liquor has also been rampant in the elections. Until Sunday, authorities had booked 3,455 cases and seized liquor including hooch worth Rs 3.4 crore.


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Sagar Biswas

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