Now, politics of wine flows freely in Maharashtra!

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Frustrated over the Opposition’s attempts to ‘ferment’ its proposal to permit wine sale through supermarkets and large shops in the state, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lock, stock and barrel, and labelled it as a party of ‘drunkards’.

As the state government on Wednesday formally uncorked the wine policy, MVA leaders slammed the BJP leaders for their hypocritical and ‘fake’ opposition to the new proposal, which is touted to benefit and spell ‘cheers’ for the fruit farmers in the state.

Slamming the BJP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) national spokesperson and state minister Nawab Malik questioned the ‘double-standards’ of the BJP vis-a-vis the new wine policy.

“If this policy can be implemented in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Goa, then why not in Maharashtra? In MP, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has even permitted bar licences for people at home,” Malik said, referring to the three BJP-ruled states.

Going a step further, the NCP leader said: “The BJP is the country’s biggest party of ‘alcoholics’. Their leaders, including Union ministers, own liquor manufacturing factories, run bars and liquor shops, but are indulging in bigotry mow.”

Joining the debate, Congress state spokesperson Atul Londhe said that BJP leaders not only love liquor, but their Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur is even promoting alcohol with her comments ‘thodi thodi piyo’ (drink moderately), and MP has already become a ‘madya-state’ (liquor-state).

“The BJP must discard its dual standards and if they are really serious about this, they should en masse surrender all their liquor licences to the government immediately, or else support the MVA policy which is taken for the farmers’ welfare,” Londhe said.

Claiming that the BJP’s dichotomy and anti-farmer stance stands exposed, the Congress leader said that in the Union Budget 2022-2023, the government has slashed the provisions for rural development, agriculture, irrigation and even veterinary sectors.

Kishore Tiwari, Shiv Sena’s farmer face who has been accorded MoS status, attacked the BJP for its “one-point agenda” of targeting the MVA without looking into its own backyards like MP, Haryana and Goa, or without knowing the difference between “wine and liquor”.

The Sena leader said that if the BJP leaders are genuinely opposed to alcohol, all their top leaders should go to Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi at Raj Ghat (New Delhi) and take an oath to implement “total prohibition” in the BJP-ruled states before commenting about other states.

“I openly challenge the BJP Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar to make a demand to MP Chief Minister Chouhan, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Goa CM Pramod Sawant to withdraw their free-for-all liquor policies before playing ‘wine politics’ in Maharashtra,” Tiwari said.

On January 27, the state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a significant decision to allow the sale of wine (ONLY) manufactured in the state to be sold through a single counter in supermarkets or retail outlets admeasuring minimum 1,000 sq ft or above.

The proposal has whipped up a foamy storm in the state with the BJP labelling it as the “MVA’s special love for the liquor industry” and warning that it would not permit Maharashtra to degenerate into a ‘wine-state’, while AIMIM MP Syed Imtiaz Jaleel threatened to vandalise such outlets, among others.

Even the nearly-forgotten anti-graft crusader, Anna Hazare (84), sprang to life and joined the ‘anti-wine party’ and flayed the MVA move, terming it as “unfortunate, sad, intended to ruin the masses, etc.”

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in)

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