The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has decided to withdraw its new excise policy and directed that liquor be sold only through government-run shops from August 1, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Saturday.
Sisodia claimed that his party’s government brought in a new excise policy to curb graft but central agencies were used to threaten shopkeepers as well as state officials. Targeting the BJP, he claimed this was done to encourage the sale of illegal as well as spurious liquor.
“We have decided to withdraw the new policy and ordered liquor be sold only through government-run shops. We have done this so that no one can sell illegal or spurious liquor in the capital. I have ordered the state chief secretary to ensure there is no corruption,” Sisodia said at a press conference.
He claimed that before 2021, liquor was sold in Delhi through government shops and alleged there was a lot of corruption. I also carried out some raids, he said.
“Our government brought a new policy last year. Earlier, there used to be some private shops but they would be allotted to near and dear ones. We ended this system and brought a new policy. We carried out a transparent auction. We decided that like earlier there will be only 850 shops. The government used to earn a revenue of Rs 6000 crore every year but under the new policy, the revenue would have risen to Rs 9,500 crore,” he claimed.
Sisodia, who is under fire from the BJP over allegations of irregularities in the excise policy implementation, however, claimed that central agencies were used to threaten liquor shopkeepers with ED and CBI. Many of the shopkeepers left the business. Today there are only 468 shops functional, he said.
“Many more plan to leave the shops. They want to create a liquor shortage in Delhi and want to encourage illegal and spurious liquor trade,” he said. Sisodia claimed even Delhi government officials were scared of the ED and the CBI.
The excise policy was passed in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Cabinet in the middle of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
Delhi government’s excise policy has been at the centre of a massive AAP-BJP political fight. The BJP has been accusing the government of irregularities and corruption in its implementation. Sisodia hit back saying illegal liquor sale was prevalent in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
The Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) is also conducting a probe into the matter. There has also been a face-off between Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and the Delhi government’s top brass over the new liquor policy.
The Excise Policy 2021-22, which was extended twice after March 31 for two months each, will expire on July 31. The strained ties between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi worsened last week when Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, holding Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in charge of the excise department, accountable.
Right after this move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at the Centre, saying the Lieutenant Governor was making “false allegations” and leaders of the AAP were “not afraid of jail”. (ANI)