Side effects of liquor vend ban?

The Supreme Court order on removing liquor vends 500 meters away from highways is creating some very interesting side-effects.

There is a sudden barrage of press conferences and statements from hoteliers and travel lobbies that this step would render so many people jobless in the country struggling with unemployment.

The media is playing this up without much prompting and we know why. I personally know now how difficult it is to get news of child rights, homeless and homeless published in newspapers today.

Those working in the liquor business would also be surprised to find so many well wishers whom they had not seen or heard of. To counter the figures of casualties in road accidents in the country the nit pickers are giving out details to say that only about 3 per cent are due to driving.

With so much talk of the benefits of liquor this lobby must be missing its most flamboyant spokesperson Vijay Mallya who turned Kingfisher into a more popular and essential brand name than Lifebuoy or Dettol if you prefer.

Not only this, the SC order has suddenly united politicians of all hues. Chief Ministers of Congress as well as BJP ruled states have promised to take care of the interests of the liquor bosses. They cannot lose the revenue even if they have to reverse the development progress for this.

For instance, in Uttarakhand which is famous for its Suraj Ast Pahad Mast slogan the government has decided to denotify Highways as District roads and the saffron parivar has as of now not objected to this novel plan to circumvent the Supreme Court order.

This order has hit Uttarakhand at the wrong time and the Trivendra Singh Rawat government is in a desperate hurry to change the ground rules, or rather road rules, to make amends.

Every year the liquor shops organise a massive sale in the capital Dehradun and other cities where heavy discounts are offered to buyers in March.

This is because by April they have to put in fresh tenders for liquor vends and the old stock has to be exhausted to beat the deadline.

The only problem is that this liquor lobby is now pitted against a very strong and aggressive lobby of housewives who are not only coming out on the road but also destroying liquor shops to demand a liquor ban both in UP and Uttarakhand.

They know that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had imposed a ban on liquor over-ruling all his officials who talked of revenue loss by telling everyone that half the population of the state comprising women had supported this.

As earlier reported in these columns, the bold step taken by Nitish had been emulated by many other states and the Supreme Court order is only one more step in this direction.

The chief speaketh

Thankfully, the Shiv Sena proposal to make Mohan Bhagwat the next President of the country was nipped in the bud by the Supremo himself who magnanimously declared himself out of the race even if he was “offered the job”!

The Shiv Sena may be short-sighted and narrow-minded but it understands politics having been in the business for decades. It knew when it made the proposal that no one was going to take it seriously. But it did try to create a wedge between the BJP and the RSS by trying to fish in troubled waters. It was such an open trick that no one fell for it.

But that only leaves the field wide open for the RSS to spread its net wider.

As President of the country, if he did come to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan he would have been bound by a protocol and his statements would be vetted by the Government due to the exalted nature of his position.

However a rank outsider (what the Bhagva Parivar likes to call extra-constitutional authority) controlling the strings of the Government from Nagpur is far more dangerous because he is totally immune from any controls.

In any case, the rate at which the RSS members are converting to the BJP and occupying the highest administrative positions it should be ranked the biggest conversion phenomenon in the country.

It was time the RSS stopped calling itself a cultural organisation which had nothing to do with politics. As of now it only helps the parivar to have two voices on all TV channel debates rather than one. While the BJP has one spokesperson that keeps changing there is Rakesh Sinha a DU Professor known as the representative of the RSS giving his views on all political topics on all channels in Hindi and English in these debates giving the ruling party an unfair advantage.

And outside the studios there is Mohan Bhagwat himself uttering his views on every topic be it reservations or cow vigilantism.

After the chief has spoken there is no more controversy because no one can speak out of turn.

We will have to wait and see if the turn-coats who joined the BJP after spending nearly two to three decades in the Congress before this election find their own voices. Will they accept two bosses Amit Shah and Mohan Bhagwat or have they sold their souls to the Devil for good?

Maneka G does it again!

Maneka Gandhi, the Minister for Women and Child Development has the habit of speaking her mind whether the party likes it or not.

It's another matter that most of the time she gets her way even when she has taken a fight against a man like Prakash Javdekar for allowing culling of wild life for destroying the crops of farmers while he was minister for Environment.

In this series her latest comment on films promoting eve-teasing does not come as a surprise except to people like Shatrughan Sinha.Maneka had said at public programme that most of the romance in films Hindi or regional begins with Eve teasing.

Going by the strict definition of Eve teasing she is right that most of the times the heroes including the great Amitabh Bachchan were known for their macho wooing style, the most famous being Jumma Chumma de de' with Kimi Katkar. At the time the film was released the song went on to acquire the status of almost a national anthem for Indian males.

It is another matter that now the same Amitabh Bachchan has been receiving rave reviews and also Best actor awards for 'Pink' where he conveys the message that if a woman says 'No' it means No.

However back to Maneka Gandhi and her comments.In the current scenario her comments are being taken as a legitimisation of the anti-Romeo squads set up by over enthusiastic BJP leaders in UP which have become a signal for other states to follow.

Shatrughan Sinha had this in mind when he as a representative of the film industry reacted immediately to advise Maneka to be careful of her words and think when to open her mouth. He even asked her if she would also blame cinema for corruption in the country.

Come to think of it, cine- star-cum-politician Shatrughan Sinha seems to enjoy a strange immunity in the BJP.For quite some time he has been making provocative statements embarrassing the central leadership of the party but while there is disciplinary action against many others for speaking out of turn, Shatrughan Sinha has been spared even by hard liners like Modi and Amit Shah who are at the helm of the BJP.