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Haryana Govt in Hurry to Get Liquor Factories Running: Congress' Surjewala

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala (Image: News18)

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala (Image: News18)

The Khattar-Chautala government, whose aim should be welfare of 2.5 crore people of Haryana, is in a hurry to get liquor factories running, said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala

Chandigarh: The Congress on Sunday hit out at the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana, saying it was in a hurry to get distilleries reopen when it should have focussed on containing coronavirus and arming those at the forefront of this battle.

"The Khattar-Chautala government, whose aim should be welfare of 2.5 crore people of Haryana, is in a hurry to get liquor factories running, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters during a video-conference.

Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala, whose nephew and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala holds the charge of the excise department, was also critical of the state government, saying its priorities were misplaced.

Chautala said rather than solving the problems of farmers related to procurement, the government is more worried about those into liquor trade.

Citing a circular dated April 11, Surjewala said, The circular from the excise and taxation commissioner (addressed to deputy excise and taxation commissioners) says they are directed to ensure operations of distilleries, bottling plants -- Indian Made Foreign Liquor, breweries, wineries situated in their districts are resumed with immediate effect.

(For wholesale and retail operation), the order then says this may be treated as a step in the direction of full scale operations of wholesale and retail licenses after the lockdown period is over, the Congress leader said quoting the order. Surjewala, a former Haryana minister, said the priority of the government during the lockdown should be fighting the coronavirus, arming our doctors, nurses,paramedical staff, police personnel, safai karamcharis and essential services employees with personal protection equipment, N-95 masks andother gear and not bothering to start distilleries with immediate effect.

Is the government working for welfare of the people of Haryana or are they working for profiteering of liquor distillery owners and wholesale and retail liquor operators. That's aquestion they need to answer, he said.

Surjewala said earlier too the state government had shut liquor vends from March 27after heavy criticism for keeping the outlets open despite a nationwide lockdown.

He said it was surprising that when the entire nation's focus was on curbing the spread of the virus,Haryana government was allowing distilleries to restart.

Abhay Chautala said the government decision was surprising. During an all-party meeting, he added, he had advised the government against opening liquor factories and vends.

But it seems the chief minister is under pressure of his ally JJP and the order...has been given even without a Cabinet approval, Chautala said in a statement. Claiming that bootlegging was going on despite the lockdown, Surjewala added it indicates to the failure of the ruling dispensation.

Haryana police last week said it had cracked down on bootleggers and arrested 449 people. Over1 lakh bottles of illicit liquor have been seized during lockdown, police said.