A week after the Delhi government rolled back its new excise policy, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused former Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal of corruption behind his decision to stall the initiative.
At a press briefing, Sisodia said that he has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation asking the agency to look into Baijal’s decision that put on hold the opening of new liquor shops under the revamped excise policy.
The deputy chief minister accused Baijal of providing undue benefits to a handful of liquor shop owners, while causing loss to several others and the Delhi government.
“Despite going through the Excise Policy 2021-22 number of times, making suggestions to it and sanctioning it, the LG office went back on the initiative just two days before the new liquor shops were supposed to open, Sisodia wrote in a tweet.”
Under the new excise policy that came into effect in November, licences of 849 liquor shops were were issued to private firms through open bidding. Earlier, four government corporations ran 475 liquor stores and the remaining 389 were private shops.
However, the new policy was temporarily withdrawn on July 30 after Baijal’s successor, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, recommended a CBI inquiry into it. Saxena accused Sisodia of procedural lapses in the policy and of giving undue benefits to liquor licensees. Sisodia heads the Excise Department of the Delhi government.
On Saturday, however, Sisodia did not target Saxena, but Baijal.
“Why was this decision changed 48 hours before [implementation of new policy?” Sisodia questioned at a press conference. “Which shop owners made a profit? Did the [former] LG make the decision himself or under pressure from someone?”
The Aam Aadmi Party leader added that under the new excise policy, liquor shops would have been equally distributed all over Delhi.
“Earlier there were up to 20 shops in one place, while none in some others,” he said. “The new excise policy went to the then LG sir...He read it very carefully. It was clearly written in the policy that the number of vends cannot exceed 849, and the shops will be allocated equally in all areas across Delhi.”
After the new policy got scrapped temporarily on July 30, the Delhi government said that the old system will remain in force for six months till a fresh excise policy is implemented. The confusion has led to several liquor shops, bars and restaurants running out of stock in Delhi.