Facing criticism over his remark that using names of women would boost the sale of liquor brands, Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan apologised, saying he did not intend to hurt the sentiments of women. The remark made at an event organised by a sugar mill in north Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district on Saturday, however, prompted a woman trade union leader to lodge a complaint against him in Chandrapur district yesterday. “I regret my remarks. I express my apologies. It wasn’t my intention to hurt women’s sentiments,” Mahajan, the state’s water resources minister, told reporters in Mumbai.
Noting that he hade made the remark “in a lighter vein”, he said it was an “unintentional mistake”. “If you want the demand for alcohol or any other product to rise, name it after a woman and see how the demand soars,” he said on Saturday while attending an event of a sugar factory which also produces liquor under the brand name ‘Maharaja’. A video of his speech was uploaded on YouTube. Angry at the minister’s comment, Paromita Goswami, president of Shramik Elgaar, an unorganised sector labour union, lodge a complaint at Mul police station in Chandrapur. She said the minister had “insulted” women with his remark.
Citing article 47 of the Constitution, she said in accordance with the provision the government is supposed to enforce prohibition. “I was simply taken aback by the statement by none other than a minister (Mahajan) and have lodged a police complaint,” she said. She also threatened to launch a protest if the police did not register an FIR against the minister. The Maharashtra government had in 2015 declared Chandrapur district in the Vidarbha region dry, imposing a ban on the sale, purchase, production and consumption of liquor.
Chandrapur was the third district in the state, after neighbouring Wardha and Gadchiroli, where prohibition was imposed. Mul police station inspector Jayvant Chavan confirmed the receipt of the complaint. “Paromita Goswami’s complaint has been forwarded to higher officials for legal opinion. However, there are no specific clauses under which the complaint could be registered,” he said.
Mahajan, meanwhile, continued to face criticism over his remark. “I think the minister is a habitual drinker and we appeal to all the women in Maharashtra to come out and fight against such a mindset,” NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said.
In an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana today, the Shiv Sena also took potshots at Mahajan.
“In a lot of places in Maharashtra, women are protesting against the sale of liquor. Despite being aware of it, Mahajan made these remarks which is unfortunate,” the Sena said.