Two junior ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet are in the dock for allegedly inaugurating a permit room and restaurant last Saturday, in violation of the government’s effort in checking alcohol abuse. The Congress, which slammed the ministers for their ‘insensitive’ act, was blissfully unaware that one of its legislators too was present at the event.
Deepak Kesarkar (second from left), Ram Shinde (to his right) seen at the inauguration of the bar
Minister of State for Home (rural) Ram Shinde and Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar were alleged to have inaugurated a permit room and restaurant, which is situated off the Pune-Ahmednagar Road. Shinde belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while Kesarkar is a Shiv Sena representative.
Reacting strongly, the Congress said that the ministers were highly irresponsible in their act. “It seems that the BJP-led government is no longer a sensitive bunch of people. Though the bar (the ministers launched) is legal, it was unwarranted for the ministers, especially a home minister, to inaugurate it,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
But when told that Congress MLC (Ahmednagar) Dr Sudhir Tambe, too, had accompanied the ministers, Sawant said that he would have to check with Tambe first.
Speaking to mid-day, Dr Tambe said that he was there at the ceremony, but maintained that the place they (he and the ministers) inaugurated was a family restaurant, and not a bar. He said the bar/permit room being talked about had been there since many years. “A group of doctors have started a new venture and they invited us to the event. I still do not know if the place I visited sells alcohol,” he said from Ahmednagar.
Shinde dismissed the allegations as baseless. He said the people who had made the accusations against him and his colleague were twisting facts. “The bar which they mentioned is there since 2012, and it has all the required permissions. I did not throw open any bar on that particular evening,” he said.
Kesarkar did not respond to repeated calls.
The ministers’ visit did not go down well with senior BJP minister Eknath Khadse, who said that the ministers could have avoided going there, if it was a bar. “It would have been better had the ministers avoided attending such a function. Some ethical precedents need to be followed in such cases,” he said.
After Wardha and Gadchiroli in the Vidarbha region, neighbouring Chandrapur in January this year became the third district in Maharashtra to become liquor-free. Now, Ahmednagar is set to become the fourth district to be declared alcohol-free. Around 600 gram panchayats in Ahmednagar district have resolved to impose a ban on liquor and have asked the state government to make the district liquor-free.