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Election spirit

This month two villages in Pune will hold another election—one where women will vote to boot out liquor shops

Written by Nisha Nambiar | Pune | Published: November 8, 2009 2:12:38 am

With the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections over,Khed and Junnar talukas in Pune district are now getting ready to host another election. The election symbols this time are just two: a standing bottle and a tilted bottle. Saying yes to the tilted bottle means the voters want the liquor shops in their village to shut,while a yes for the standing bottle means they want

the shops to remain in business.

Pait village in Khed taluka and Parunde in Junnar taluka have submitted a memorandum to the Pune district Collector and the excise department to evict liquor shops. They will hold an election this month to vote on the issue.

Vijay Chinchalkar,superintendent of the state excise department (Pune district),says the tehsildar of these areas will conduct an inquiry before conducting the election. If Pait and Parunde succeed in throwing out liquor shops,they won’t be the first in the district to do so. Till date,13 villages in Pune have voted out liquor shops.

“Representatives of these villages submitted a memorandum before the Assembly elections. With the model code of conduct coming into place,this election could not be conducted then,’’ says Chinchalkar.

The procedure for such an election was laid out on June 30,2003,in the rules in the Gazette of the excise department,which says that if 25 per cent of women in a village support a move to ban the sale of liquor in the village and put their names down on an application,it becomes mandatory for the excise department to close the shops selling liquor immediately and later hold an election. In the election,if more than 50 per cent women vote for closing the shops,the Collector,in consultation with the excise department,has to order them shut.

Sarpanch Alka Bhokse of Pait village in Khed taluka,which has a population of 3,222,says,“We have given a memorandum. We want to shut down one country liquor shop and two beer shops in our village.’’

Of the 1,596 women in the village,799 have to vote for the ban for it to be implemented. Asha Raundal and Nanda Sudam Raundal from Pait are determined to throw liquor shops out of the village. “We are all farmers and after a hard day’s work in the fields,we have to face the badgering of our husbands. They drink and then come home and hit us. It has become a daily affair,’’ says Raundal.

Parunde village has a population of 1,657,of which 795 are women. The villagers have submitted a memorandum to vote out a beer shop. Gram Sevak Bal Saraf,secretary of the gram panchayat,says this is the second time they have spoken to the collector on the issue.

Nirmala Tukaram Andre and her friend Savita Nivrutti Jadhav,who run self-help groups in the village,say that this time,they are confident of success. “The number of women wanting to vote in this election has grown. Everyone is aware of this system,’’ says Andre.

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