Yavatmal (Maharashtra), Feb 15 : Hundreds of women’s Self Help Groups (SHG), activists and grassroots workers protested Maharashtra government’s move to permit wine sale in supermarkets and walk-in shops, and also questioned why social crusader Anna Hazare is mum on several Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states permitting liquor sale in grocery stores or even granting home-bar licences.
The SGHs’ convenor and tribal leader Ankit Naitam, Shramik Elgar activist Paromita Goswami, Maharashtra MoS Kishore Tiwari and others unanimously passed a resolution urging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to roll-back the policy of allowing wine sale in supermarkets/stores with a minimum area of 1,000 square feet.
Attacking Hazare – who has postponed his proposed ‘hunger strike’ from Monday against the policy – Tiwari accused him of “double-standards” while opposing the rule in Maharashtra while being “absolutely silent” on BJP-ruled states like Goa, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh – where even home-bar licences have been allowed.
“Before targetting his home state selectively, Anna Hazare should also look at the BJP-ruled states and launch a nationwide agitation against all states which are liberalising wine-liquor policies to earn more revenues, especially after the economic crisis causefd by the two years of Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns,” Tiwari said.
Goswami said that such a policy “could ruin households and cause disaster for the society at large” as it could be easily misused, and in the long-run, not only wine, but all types of hard liquor and even country-made alcoholic brews would soon be available in neighbourhood retail outlets.
On Sunday, Anna Hazare had decided to call off his hunger strike after the Maharashtra government agreed to consider his suggestions, inviting suggestions/objections from the masses before implementing the new wine policy.
In January, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had approved its new wine policy, permitting sale of wines produced in Maharashtra through a dedicated shelf in supermarkets and walk-in stores, subject to several conditions. The move is intended to help the fruit farmers and wine producers.
The BJP, AIMIM, Anna Hazare, women activists/groups and others have vehemently opposed the move, while the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress defended it, with both sides hurling allegations and counter-charges at each other.