Heated debate in Maharashtra over wine not being alcohol

Jan. 30: The cabinet’s much-lauded decision to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores and supermarkets over 100 square meters has brought the government’s two-decade delWine crusade of not categorizing wine as alcohol, outdoors in the key state of Maharashtra wine production and the meaningless controversy between opposition parties has forced politicians on both sides to debate extensively. Subhash Arora reports in this blog

A war of words has erupted between the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party over the government declaring wine not alcohol and allowing (only) the sale of wine in walk-in stores and supermarkets. The progressive decision has already inspired Karnataka to follow suit and may even force the Delhi government to review its excise policy and allow the sale of wine and beer in department stores, a successful policy it has abandoned. few years ago.

MVA is at odds with opposition party BJP, with former chief minister and opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis saying that the government was converting Maharashtra into Madya Rashtra, a nation of alcohol. (Unfortunately, BJP still claims they don’t understand the difference between wine and spirits publisher.)

Chief of Congress Sachin Sawant said the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh under Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made a similar decision that covered not only grape, mead, fruit and flower wines, but all kinds of liqueurs. “Our neighboring state has already become Madya Pradesh under the BJP CM,” Sawant tweeted, wondering if the BJP had a strategy to oppose alcohol when in opposition and promote its consumption when in power. Again, it may be pertinent to clarify to our foreign readers that India is a federal republic and each state sets its alcohol excise policy independently.

Sanjay Raut, MP Rajya Sabha of Shiv Sena, from the ruling party Government of Maha Vikas Aghadi, defended the cabinet decision announced on Thursday, saying wine is not alcohol. “Wine is not alcohol. If wine sales increase, farmers will benefit. We did this to double farmers’ income. BJP only opposes but does nothing for farmers “, said Raut, saying that those who oppose this decision are anti-farmer.

While making the decision public, the Minister of Skills Development Nabab Malik said: “The decision was made to give a boost to fruit-based wineries that provide additional income to farmers.”

Bandatatya Karhadkar, a leader of Warkari The religious sect has sarcastically praised the government and urged it to introduce wine into the school lunch program instead of nutritious food. DelWine would like to direct Karhadkar to our Item from January 15, 2022 When French children were allowed to drink wine in school canteens. In fact, it seems ironic that when the Indian Constitution written in 1949 sought to completely ban alcohol in India, French wine culture was so strong that even children were allowed to drink wine in school and in fact , it was part of their tiffin until 1956.

Sambhajirao Bhide who leads the right-wing Shivaprathisthan Hindustan, attacked the government and called the move “brazen, anti-national, anti-religious, immoral and dangerous”. Guruji added that he would ask the governor BS Koshyari overthrow this government.

Raut replied: “Is there a ban on alcohol in the country? Wine is produced from a range of fruits such as grapes, guava, chikoo, etc. This move by the state government will give farmers higher yields and help them improve their economic status. Critics of this move should understand the economics behind it,” while urging the BJP-led government in the Center to also take such decisions courageously to help farmers who have been unable to make them. market effectively. (although the current debate is about wines made from grapes grown by local farmers).

‘BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur also said that wine is medicine and advises drinking it in small amounts,” Raut said. Earlier, on January 20, she backed party leader Uma Bharti’s demand to ban alcohol in Madhya Pradesh. “According to Ayurveda, wine works like medicine if consumed in limited quantities,” she said at the time. In fact, Drakshasava (Draksha and similar names are common as Ayurvedic tonics) and known to have fermented grapes as a key ingredient.

BJP leader Gopichand Padalkar launched a scathing attack on Raut, asking him to guarantee that wines made in Maharashtra will only be sold in supermarkets and walk-in shops, accusing MVA executives of holding secret meetings with international winemakers .

Media reports do not specify whether the decision is aimed at ensuring a more accessible marketing channel for all wines or only Indian wines or only Maharashtra wines. Jagdish Holkar The chairman of the All India Wine Producers Association, who has been considering the matter for more than a year, said his understanding was that not only Indian wines but also imported wines would be allowed, but that he had to wait for the official notification.

Selling all wines, or at least all Indian wines, takes on its full meaning. The aim as stated is to help the wine industry only, it should enable customers to enjoy the full range of wines – total sales including Maharashtra and Karnataka wines will increase and revenue excise duty on imported wines will be an additional premium. Otherwise, it would be frustrating for consumers looking for wines but finding only a fraction of the choice available in these supermarkets.

Deputy Prime Minister Ajit Pawar also highlighted the difference between wine and liquor. The difference must be categorically clarified to the general public, he said. His uncle, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, who has served as three-time chief minister and also a central government minister, has a family interest in viticulture and is considered a friend of Maharashtra’s wine industry, deserving much credit for its development. It was recorded several years ago emphasizing that wine is not alcohol and healthy lifestyle drink to be consumed with food should be promoted as an industry providing jobs for farmers and weaning consumers from harmful spirits with much more alcohol.

Karnataka could follow

Meanwhile, taking inspiration from neighboring Maharashtra, the Karnataka The government has also started thinking about allowing wine to be sold in department stores and supermarkets and in doing so give winemakers a distinct advantage. Currently, only registered wine stores are allowed to sell wine in the state. It is the second largest grape producer in India, behind Maharashtra and is rapidly developing as a center of wine production.

drink or drive, you must choose

Whether you buy your wine from a liquor store or a supermarket, the same rules apply for drunk driving. Mumbai Police have joined in the current debate. In response to a tongue-in-cheek tweet from a resident, Mumbai Police tweeted: Sir, we recommend you lift the bar and get into a chauffeured car, after drinking, as a ‘responsible citizen’. Otherwise, if the breathalyzer detects the alcohol content of the wine you drank, you will have to be our guest behind bars.

The Maharashtra government is to be applauded not only for supporting grape growers, but also for helping to utilize fruit that would otherwise go to waste. All policies should differentiate wine (and possibly beer) from alcohol – farmers, producers and consumers will all benefit from this progressive decision, despite mandatory opposition. Small producers will be especially grateful because their survival is at stake and now they can hope to not only survive but also thrive.

Arora sub-hash