In a bold election pledge, candidate Vanita Raut has stirred the pot with a promise that could raise eyebrows and glasses alike. Her vision? A village bar in every nook and cranny, serving up not just any spirits, but branded liquor straight from the public distribution system (PDS).

Raut is Akhil Bhartiya Manavta Party candidate from the Chandrapur Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra. She argues that by providing access to quality liquor, the consumption of potentially harmful country liquors could be curbed, particularly in the underprivileged and tribal areas. Raut’s proposition challenges the status quo, suggesting that access to fine spirits should not be a privilege reserved for the elite. Instead, she believes it should be a right for all, even in the most remote corners of the constituency.

Raut has completed her education up to eighth standard and she contested the 2019 State Assembly polls from Chimur constituency giving the same promises but garnering only 286 votes. However, she feels that liquor is an important factor in the region.

In April 2015, the Chandrapur district faced a sobering change as the State government enforced a blanket ban on alcohol, revoking all 500 liquor licences. However, in 2021, the State cabinet decided to lift the prohibition following the recommendations of an expert committee. The committee, which submitted its report, highlighted the failure of the ban’s execution, leading to a surge in illegal liquor sales and the availability of counterfeit alcohol in the district’s black market.

Election issue

Raut says that despite the lifting of the liquor ban, accessibility and affordability of alcohol continue to be of pressing concern. In a statement to vernacular media, she proposed the legalisation of all liquor sales, advocating for licences to be granted to those who choose to consume alcohol. Drawing a parallel with the recent distribution of sarees by the State government through the PDS, Raut pledged to utilise her MP fund to make whisky, beer and other liquors more affordable and accessible through the PDS, ensuring that these items are available at subsidised rates.

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Interestingly, in Maharashtra, a wave of women-led grassroots movements has emerged, advocating for a ban on liquor in villages. Their motivation stems from the belief that alcohol is a catalyst for financial distress among small and marginal farmers’ families, often leading them into debt. Additionally, these movements highlight the issue of domestic violence, with many women citing the detrimental effects of alcohol on their husbands’ behaviour.

Dismissing calls for a liquor ban, Raut predicts that such a move would only fuel the demand for illicit liquor, exacerbating the existing issues. Confident in her ability to represent the constituency effectively, she assures voters that electing her would be a decision they won’t regret!