BY QUAID NAJMI
Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Oct 17 (IANS) In the dry heat and dust of Maharashtra elections, two women candidates in the state are spearheading their lone campaigns in adjoining constituencies – for and against the liquor ban in this Maoist-affected district.
Despite the obvious contrasts, both belles bask in the limelight, one for her Bengali family with an army background and the other for her no-holds barred ‘bottoms up’ booze battle.
In 2015, Chandrapur became the third district in the state – after Wardha and Gadhchiroli – to be brought under prohibition on various grounds, including demands from the locals.
Undeterred, a plucky Vanita Jitendra Raut – the sole woman candidate put up by a local party, Akhil Bharatiya Manavata Paksha (ABMP) in Chimur Assembly seat, has taken up cudgels against the liquor ban and made it her one point poll agenda.
In contrast, Aam Aadmi Party’s feisty lawyer Paromita Prangopal Goswami contesting the prestigious Brahmapuri Assembly constituency next door, has launched a full-throated campaign supporting the liquor ban, and brushing the broom on a host of other burning local issues that confront the electorate.
Goswami was instrumental in the successful implementation of prohibition in Chandrapur.
“I am a first-timer in electoral politics. I am concentrating on issues close to the people like jobs, proper housing, strictly enforcing the liquor ban, the question of man-animal conflict as this constituency is surrounded by several wildlife and tiger sanctuaries,” Goswami told IANS from the campaign trail.
Luckily for her, on Friday (October 18) AAP President and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will reach Brahmapuri to campaign for her.
Incidentally, Brahmapuri is a much-watched VVIP constituency in which the main contender is none other than Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Congress candidate Vijay N. Wadettiwar, engaged in a multi-cornered contest.
Besides AAP’s Goswami, Wadettiwar is directly challenged by Shiv Sena, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the Communist Party of India, Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, the Maratha-supported Sambhaji Brigade Party and four independents.
In comparison, Raut’s position appears more ‘cheer’ful in Chimur as she starts from the crack of dawn till the close of campaign hours, crying hoarse to revoke the liquor ban and ensure Chandrapur becomes a land of rum, beer and whisky.
She has a ‘neat’, ‘no-hiccup’ justification for her ‘spirited’ agenda, as she explained to many mesmerized media-persons the other day.
“If elected, I will ensure that the liquor ban is lifted. I shall get liquor permits and bar licences to the unemployed youth to open ‘Daaru ki Dukaan’ in all the villages for an honorable living,” she said without blinking an eyelid as she stirred up a controversy.
Early in her campaign, she had distributed a campaign pamphlet outlining her vision of Chandrapur where every happy household would be transformed into an ‘Aunty’s Adda’, with her help and government aid.
“Despite the liquor ban since five years, illegal liquor sales and consumption have zoomed. People resort to devious methods to obtain and consume alcohol. Instead, it would be better if the liquor ban is lifted and even the government can earn tax revenues,” Raut pointed out.
Brewing up national interests, Raut assured that currently people below the poverty line (BPL) are entitled to get food rations at highly subsidized rates.
“If I get elected, I will see to it that whisky, beer and other alcoholic drinks are sold at subsidized rates, probably through the ration shops with nothings on the buyer’s ration cards,” she said of her public welfare measure.
By this, she said that a pint of beer costing Rs 80 could be available for as low as Rs 20, people would take it home along with chicken and eggs, to drink heartily in their homes.
“This would reduce brawls and crimes which take place when people drink outside, allow the family, especially children to enjoy the chicken and eggs and solve the problems of malnutrition leading to a happy family..!” Raut said.
Though many men have started seeing dreams of Chandrapur returning to the happy days, the womenfolk are suspicious and even wonder whether the banished ‘souten’ (mistress) in the form of the bottle would return to haunt their homes and happiness.
Raut’s formidable opponents include the main rival from Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, BSP, VBA, Peasants & Workers Party of India and four independents.
BY QUAID NAJMI