MUMBAI: On March 11, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the Assembly that his government will enact a law to ban dance bars in Maharashtra despite the Supreme Court’s nod to reopen them after they were shut down in 2004. The issue has taken a prominent position in state politics, bypassing other important ones such as financial mismanagement and drought relief measures.
The government’s decision has led to a debate whether the state should be opening more avenues for revenue generation or impose restrictions in the name of morality. Reopening dance bars has become an issue of morality, and it is a subject on which all political parties are speaking in one tone, a rare scene in politics.
According to Bharat Singh Thakur, president of Dance Bar Association, dance bars can generate `1,200 crore every month in Mumbai alone. “If bars are reopened, not only the dancers and singers but rickshaw drivers and tailors could earn handsomely every day. The government will also earn good revenue from them. I don’t understand why the government is keen on losing the revenue,” he said.
A bar owner in Chembur said girls who worked for him were inquiring whether he will employ them again. “What’s wrong in earning money by dancing and singing? Dance bars will give artists an opportunity to showcase their skills and live a respectful life,” he said, adding that Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu sang in a bar before he became famous.
State Minister of Finance Sudhir Mungantiwar agreed that dance bars can make the state richer, but said the state will not encourage anything that is against the society’s interests. “Dance bars made many men bankrupt and ruined their family lives. We don’t want to earn money that comes from spoiling family values,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Dhananjay Munde of the NCP said: “We are supporting the ban because we don’t want the youths take a wrong path of spending money. We don’t want trouble for the law and order situation.”
Thakur refuted the charge. “No immoral activities occur in dance bars. We don’t incite anyone to spend money on the girls. As far as law and order is concerned, it can get disturbed anywhere,” he said.
The CM maintained that the state will decide on banning dance bars based on legal points, not emotions. “Earlier, officials had warned us against taking an emotional decision but we overlooked them. We are not going to repeat the mistake. ,” he said.