Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray wrote an open letter to his cousin and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray advocating sale of liquor in the state. He said lifting of the lockdown is nowhere in sight and as such banning liquor sales will impact state revenues. "Since 18th March, our state is in a lockdown phase. First, the deadline was March 31, then extended to April 14, now it stands at May 3. How long will this lockdown phase keep getting extended cannot be ascertained," he said.
Thackeray said that opening liquor shops does not mean that the government is looking after the needs of alcohol consumers but is only aiming to "to start the process of income flow into the shrinking revenue" of the state.
"The excise duty generated for the state via liquor amounts to Rs 41.66 crore daily, or Rs 1,250 crore monthly and around Rs 14,000 crore yearly," Thackeray pointed out.
He said that the state should not concern itself with moral issues. "It's not that there was a liquor ban in our state and we are asking to remove that. Prior to lockdown, the wine shops were open. The state government should not try to get caught in some moral issues at such a crucial time and take the necessary action," Thackeray said in the letter.
Raj Thackeray argued that the police force and healthcare workers do not have PPE kits. Additionally necessary requirements such as free meal services are not met.
The MNS chief also said that low budget restaurants and outlets must be allowed to function. "There are so many low budget small restaurants, canteens wherein one has access to the affordable and humble 'rice plate'...There are many homes which are not equipped with cooking staff and many homes would not even have the necessary supplies and requirements needed for cooking," he wrote.
He also said that adhering to the norms of the lockdown is the responsibility of the hotel owners. "To face this corona pandemic, the citizens will cooperate but the government too needs to ensure a decent and liveable life to its citizens in return," he added.
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