Shiv Sena hits out at Centre for not taking action against MJ Akbar

Mumbai: People involved in misconduct towards women are in the Cabinet, Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena said on Tuesday. Sena, without naming anyone, attacked at the Centre for not taking any action against Union minister M J Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment. Several women journalists have come out and accused Akbar, a former newspaper editor and now the Union minister of state for external affairs, of sexually harassing them during his stint as a journalist.

Akbar has rejected the allegations as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”, and also filed a private criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court Monday against one of journalists who levelled charges against him. Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said, “The BJP (prior to 2014 Lok Sabha polls) had promised food, clothing and shelter to all and also to make a ‘moral country’. But people involved in misconduct towards women are in the Cabinet while decisions are taken to encourage alcoholism.” In the editorial, it also criticised the Maharashtra government’s proposal of online sale and home delivery of liquor.

It said amid water scarcity in Maharashtra, the state was also suffering from an “intellectual drought”. Excise Minister Chandrakant Bawankule said Sunday the BJP-led government had decided to allow online sale and home delivery of liquor in the state, but later stated that only a proposal for this was received.

The Sena said the government cited two reasons behind such a proposal – that it would bring down cases of drunken driving and check liquor adulteration. “The state is facing water drought but now it seems there is also an ‘intellectual drought’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not made any promise before the Lok Sabha polls of home delivery of liquor,” it said.

What is the guarantee that people will not drive after getting drunk at home? it wondered. “The government is so careful of people that it decided to deliver liquor at their doorsteps. The figures of people dying due to malnutrition and of unemployment are already out. Has the government found home delivery of liquor a solution to this? the Marathi daily taunted.

How much revenue the government will get from such a decision is not known, but the proposal must have been mooted after forging a “deal” with liquor makers, the Sena claimed. “This is how large amount of funds are raised for election. The BJP’s fund raising formula is now open…this has exposed the party’s real face,” it said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has clarified that there was no proposal to sell liquor online, then why his Cabinet colleague spoke about it? it sought to know. It seems the party wanted to gauge people’s reaction just by dropping hints about such a proposal, said the Sena, an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra. “If the government wants to offer home delivery, it should rather focus on supplying fodder to people rearing cattle, drinking water and food wherever required,” it opined.

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