Veteran social crusader Kisar Baburao alias Anna Hazare and the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) have strongly flayed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s decision to permit sale of wine through supermarkets and local grocery shops.
Going a step further, the AIMIM Lok Sabha MP from Aurangabad Syed Imtiaz Jaleel even threatened a ‘Shiv Sena-style’ of agitation if the state government insists on implementing the decision, announced last week.
“I am giving an open challenge to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar or any other ministers to come to Aurangabad and inaugurate the wine counter in a supermarket or shop. We shall strongly oppose and break it down if necessary. I will take full responsibility for this,” an aggressive Jaleel told mediapersons.
In Ahmednagar, Hazare issued a statement condemning the MVA decision as “unfortunate” and how it is “detrimental to public interest”.
He claimed that as per the Constitution, it is the duty of the government to discourage addiction of any types, including drugs and alcohol, and to create awareness about these, but it was sad to see how alcohol and addiction are being junked for getting financial gains.
Hazare pointed out how in the recent past, the state government had slashed the excise duty on liquors by 50 per cent, from 300 per cent to 150 per cent with the revenue expected to rise by increased sales.
“This means that even if the people of the state become alcoholics and get ruined, the government will insist on hiking its revenues… It’s indeed unfortunate how the government is giving priority to revenues although the masses are opposed to the move,” rued Hazare.
Earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had attacked the government decision, terming it as “MVA’s special love for the liquor industry”, and vowed that he would not permit Maharashtra to become a ‘madya-rashtra’ (wine-state).
In a significant step, the MVA government on January 27 decided to allow all supermarkets and walk-in stores with a minimum area of 1000 sq. feet sale wine through a shelf-in-shop, with certain restrictions and levies, ostensibly in the interest of the farmers, in the country’s premier wine-producing state.
The state government’s move came barely days after adjoining Madhya Pradesh also permitted liquor sales at all its airports, select supermarkets in four major cities and issuing home bar licences to those earning Rs 1 crore or more annually.