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BJP minister from Maharashtra apologises for offensive remark on naming liquor after women

In a complete turnaround, Girish Mahajan now says names of such liquor and tobacco brands must be changed

mumbai Updated: Nov 06, 2017 16:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra’s medical education and water resources minister Girish Mahajan spoke to media at his Malabar Hill home and apologised for his statement on Monday.(Kunal Patil/HT)

Maharashtra’s medical education and water resources minister Girish Mahajan on Monday apologised after his suggestion on Saturday that sugar factories name their liquor brands after women caused a huge row.

In a complete turnaround, Mahajan has now said that it is high time to reconsider the naming of liquor and tobacco brands after women.

Mahajan admits he made a mistake and said he is sorry if his statement has offended women. “It was a mistake I made while talking in a completely different background, and in a lighter vein. I did not intend to insult women. I tender my apology for the statement,” he said.

The fact remains, however, that most local liquor brands doing good business are named after women, Mahajan said, adding that the purpose of his statement was to highlight the fact that the naming convention is insulting. “There is a need to consider changing the names of these brands. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may take a decision if a request is made to him,” he said.

Mahajan kicked off a row while inaugurating the sugarcane crushing season at Satpuda sugar factory in Nandurbar on Saturday when he advised the factory to name its liquor brand after women as it would earn better.

Citing examples of the brands owned by companies in western Maharashtra, the minister said the factory should have named its liquor brand Maharani instead of Maharaja. He pointed out that factories in Kolhapur and Sangli have given their liquor brands names such as Julie, Bhingari and Bobby, and are doing good business.

Even tobacco brands with names such as Vimal and Kesar are selling well, Mahajan added.

The statement drew a sharp reaction from women activists and Opposition parties, both of whom strongly condemned the comment and insisted that Mahajan apologise.

Social activist Paromita Goswami of NGO Shramik Elgar filed a complaint against the minister in Mul police station in Chandrapur district, Vidarbha. She has demanded that a case be registered under sections 504 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, for public provocation and insulting the modesty of women.

This is not the first time that Mahajan has got embroiled in a controversy. Earlier this year, he received flak for reportedly attending the wedding ceremony of a relative of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. He also invited criticism for attending a function meant for children with hearing and speech disabilities, with his revolver tucked under his waist, visible to everyone.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 15:19 IST