Former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal, on Tuesday refuted the allegations of corruption levelled against him by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the new excise policy, The Indian Express reported.
“The allegations made by Manish Sisodia are baseless and are motivated against me,” Baijal said. “They are nothing but blatant lies and falsehoods being perpetrated by a desperate man to save his own skin.”
Under the new excise policy that came into effect in November, licences of 849 liquor shops were issued to private firms through open bidding in New Delhi. 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However, the new policy was temporarily withdrawn on July 30 after Baijal’s successor, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, recommended an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into it.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.
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.
On August 6, Sisodia accused Baijal of corruption after his decision to stall the revamped excise policy. The minister said he wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation, asking the agency to look into Baijal’s decision that had put on hold the opening of new liquor shops under the initiative.
The deputy chief minister had also accused Baijal of providing undue benefits to a handful of liquor shop owners while causing loss to several others and the Delhi government.
“Why was this decision changed 48 hours before the implementation of the new policy?” Sisodia had asked at a press conference. “Which shop owners made a profit? Did the [former] LG make the decision himself or under pressure from someone?”
On Tuesday, Baijal said he had flagged the “unlawful” decisions taken by the Aam Aadmi Party government on several occasions during the implementation of the new excise policy, The Indian Express reported.
“The AAP government and its excise minister appeared to have initially claimed record revenue through excise by manipulating figures,” Baijal alleged, according to the newspaper. “But when that got utterly exposed, they are now playing this deplorable game of blaming me by distorting facts and painting a false narrative.”
Saxena also objected to the allegations levelled by Sisodia against Baijal regarding the new excise policy.
“LG Shri VK Saxena…expressed grave objection to the deliberately misleading, baseless and motivated allegations made by Shri Manish Sisodia and other AAP leaders against Shri Baijal over last few days,” a tweet by Raj Niwas said.
It added: “Shri Saxena has advised the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal to ensure that his colleagues in the government and party, refrain from such petty behaviour and statements.”