The Opposition in Maharashtra on Thursday targeted the Devendra Fadnavis government in the wake of the Supreme Court order on dance bars. Alleging that the ruling BJP had struck a “deal” with dance bar owners, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) hit out at the government for presenting a “weak side” before the court.
The Congress also criticised the BJP and accused the party of having “close ties” with bar owners. Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said the government had “given a backdoor route to reopen dance bars”. Taking a dig at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP’s national spokesperson, Nawab Malik, alleged that the “BJP’s senior leaders and dance bar owners had met at the CM’s official residence a couple of years ago where a ‘deal’ was struck over the issue”.
Malik alleged that Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar and Shaina NC had mediated for dance bar owners.
Malik’s accusation evoked a sharp response from the BJP, with Shelar labelling Malik as a “big liar”. Refuting Malik’s allegations, Shelar claimed that there had been no such meeting.
Echoing Malik’s views, NCP’s Dhananjay Munde, the Leader of the Opposition in the state Legislative Council, said: “The government has yet again fallen short while presenting its side on the dance bar ban before the court. We are concerned about the effects of the decision in future. The government must immediately take legal steps to see that dance bars do not start operating again.”
Senior BJP minister Vinod Tawde denied NCP’s allegations saying that the state government had done a good job of presenting the case in the apex court. Meanwhile, the Minister of State (Home), Ranjit Patil, said the government will ensure that no “untoward activities” take place in dance bars. “Staying within the ambit of the SC decision, we will be
vigilant so that no untoward activities take place in the garb of running dance bars,” he said.
He added: “The court’s decision on dance bar is of a mixed nature. Yet, the majority sentiments of the people in Maharashtra is against dance bars. These sentiments are not fully reflected in the decision.” Patil said: “We (the government) are yet to receive a written copy of the court order. Once we get it, we will decide the further course of action.”
The Congress also lashed out at the BJP. Echoing NCP’s view that the government had presented a “weak stand” in the court, state Congress president Chavan said “the government had just given a backdoor route to reopen dance bars”.
Defending the previous Congress-led government’s decision to ban the bars, Chavan said the step had been taken considering the social ills around the activity. Accusing the BJP of having “close ties” with bar owners, Chavan said that the ruling party had changed its position on the issue after coming to power.