Feb 02: The decision taken by the Cabinet last Thursday to allow sale of wine only in Supermarkets with minimum of 100 sq. mtrs size and a shop- in- wine of maximum 2.5 cu mtrs, was finally cleared today with Minutes of the last Meeting approved after a lot of Fake News was spread through the opposition machinery, creating confusion in the minds of the members after recommendations from Sharad Pawar (NCP), a known supporter of Indian wine industry and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, reports Subhash Arora who believes there is still a lot of wine-illiteracy in India
In an interview this morning with ABP Majha Live (Marathi) TV Channel, Sharad Pawar explained that the state government decision was in the interest of the farmers. Society should understand the difference between liquor & wine. Some people have been spreading fake narratives in the society,but in his diplomatic style said, ‘if the government wants to turn back on the decision it took last week, I will not object.’
Jagdish Holkar, President of All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) further clarified that the cabinet decision on Thursday was nowhere like the wine would get sold in the grocery shops or any local Kirana shops. ‘But, some elements were trying to deliberately mislead the people. Wine industry has nothing to do with party politics. The government has supported us for wine production during the last two decades. But this is a big decision to help us in marketing wines and business expansion. It will give a boost to the agro-economy in coming years,’ he emphasised.
The AIWPA was in full strength with producers Sanjeev Paithankar, Ashwin Rodriguez and Rajesh Jadav who have been actively following up with the Mantralaya for over 18 months, to clarify queries raised by any member during the meeting held this afternoon to pass the Minutes of the Thursday Meeting. Doubts and fears were expressed by the Cabinet meeting after being fed the false news by the media. After a long discussion that almost derailed the announced policy, Minutes were passed when defended by the Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and strongly supported by the pragmatic CM, Uddhav Thackeray.
Also Read : Blog: Hot Debate in Maharashtra on Wine not being Liquor
It will be a few days before it becomes a policy. But the smear campaign was carried out by the opposition party BJP who took upon itself to spread fake news, despite the announcement that only the supermarkets with a minimum area of 100 sq. mtrs. were eligible. Besides, having a walk-in-shop of 2.5 cu. mtrs inside, was another criterion. There are only a total of 600 such eligible supermarkets in Maharashtra, according to Rodriquez who has a winery in Vinchur Wine Park, developed by the State government to help increase farmers’ income.
The misinformation took an ugly turn with the vernacular press expressing anger and opposition claiming that the intention of the government was to increase alcoholism to make extra revenue, asserting that the corner grocery stores would also get into the act. In fact, in the central government’s Policy of ‘One District One Product’, Nashik has been selected as a WINE producing city!!
Also Read : Maharashtra allows wine sale in Grocery Stores and Supermarkets
The fake news brigade took it upon itself to influence a very reputed international magazine like The Drinks Business which focused on the ageing Social Activist Anna Hazare slamming the policy, stressing that under Constitution of India (Article 47), the state governments are encouraged to introduce prohibition while the state has set the target of selling 1000crore liters (10 billion liters- 1.1 billion 9-liter cases) of wine. Unfortunately, he also belongs to the category of wine-illiterates with little understanding of the difference between wine and liquor. For the first time, Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar have pointedly taken up the stand to increase the farmer’s income. The magazine even used the picture alongside shelves full of liquor bottles (no wine) and to make a point, multiple patilas with dhaba style food have been plonked just in front as the props for the picture.
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