Only government-run liquor shops will operate in Delhi from Monday, August 1, till the state government works to streamline the new excise policy, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Saturday. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government has decided to roll back to the old scheme of retail liquor sale after the Lieutenant Governor recommended a CBI investigation into the implementation of the new policy.
“We have withdrawn new excise policy and directed opening government liquor stores. I have directed the chief secretary to ensure no chaos during the transition period,” Sisodia at a press conference.
The move will lead to shutting of 468 private liquor shops from Monday, leading to a crisis for booze lovers in the national capital. The Delhi government is working on the rough draft of the 2022-23 excise policy, which is yet to be sent to L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena for his approval.
The 2021-22 excise policy was extended twice after March 31 this year and will come to an end on July 31. The excise department recommends home delivery of liquor, among other things, in the new excise policy of 2022-23.
Targeting the BJP, Sisodia alleged they were “running an illegal liquor business in Gujarat” and they wanted to do it now in Delhi also.
The deputy chief minister, who also holds the excise portfolio, said in the press briefing that the Delhi chief secretary has been directed to ensure that liquor is now sold through government shops only and there is no chaos.
He also alleged the BJP was using agencies like the CBI and ED to threaten liquor licensees, many of whom have now shut shops, and the excise officials who were scared to start open auctions of retail licences.
“They want to create a shortage of liquor so that they can run an illegal liquor trade in Delhi like they are doing in Gujarat. But we will not let this happen,” Sisodia said.
The decision to roll back the new excise policy comes after Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi excise policy 2021-22, holding Sisodia, in-charge of the excise department, accountable. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had lashed out at the Centre, saying the L-G was making “false allegations” and leaders of the AAP were “not afraid of jail”.
The L-G’s move follows a report submitted by chief secretary Naresh Kumar on the matter. The report, which officials said was submitted on July 8, accuses Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor vend licencees in lieu of “kickbacks” and “commissions” and the money being used in the recent Punjab elections.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said that excise policy has been rolled back under the pressure of the BJP and people of Delhi.
“Under the new liquor policy, the Kejriwal government, which has done a scam of many thousands of crores, has now decided to withdraw the liquor policy under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the people of Delhi. This is the victory of the people,” he said while addressing a press conference.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”hi” dir=”ltr”>दिल्लीवासियों की जीत, भाजपा कार्यकर्ताओं का संघर्ष रंग लाया!<a href=”https://twitter.com/ArvindKejriwal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ArvindKejriwal</a> व <a href=”https://twitter.com/msisodia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@msisodia</a> ने दिल्ली को बर्बाद करने व शराब माफियाओं को फायदा पहुंचाने के लिए जानबूझकर ये Policy बनाई थी जिसमें भ्रष्टाचार कर जनता के साथ विश्वासघात किया।<br><br>अब CBI जांच में इनके सारे काले चिट्ठे खुलेंगे।</p>— Adesh Gupta (@adeshguptabjp) <a href=”https://twitter.com/adeshguptabjp/status/1553305714965131264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 30, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said that BJP has been opposing the policy ever since it was introduced. He alleged that the Kejriwal government provided benefit to the “liquor mafia” under the excise policy.
(With inputs from PTI)