Delhi excise policy row: Manish Sisodia blames L-G for ‘last-minute U-turn’ – Hindustan Times

Updated on Aug 06, 2022 01:58 PM IST
Sisodia, who is also the state excise and finance minister, said that he is writing to the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the matter
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia addressing a press conference in the national capital on Saturday. (Sanjeev Verma/ HT Photo)
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia addressing a press conference in the national capital on Saturday. (Sanjeev Verma/ HT Photo)

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is also the state excise and finance minister, for the first time acknowledged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital has incurred losses worth “thousands of crores” of rupees under the new excise policy 2021-22, but blamed it squarely on the Lieutenant Governor (L-G), who he alleged “made a U-turn at the last moment” before implementing the new regime from November 17, 2021.

The senior AAP leader said that he is writing to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the matter.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday from his residence in central Delhi’s Mathura Road, Sisodia said the file on the 2021-22 excise policy went to the L-G twice before getting implemented. In the first instance, the then L-G Anil Baijal sent back the file with certain suggestions and changes, which was then incorporated by the Delhi government, the deputy CM said.

“The file, after making the necessary changes as suggested by the L-G, was sent for a second time in November first week. The new policy was to be implemented from November 17 and the L-G returned the file on November 15, just 48 hours before the launch, asking us to make major changes to it. The L-G said that we need to get permission from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the municipal corporation for permitting liquor shops in unauthorised colonies,” Sisodia said.

Also Read:Delhi to roll back excise policy but after a month

He said that the suggestion to consult the DDA for opening liquor vends in unauthorised colonies was not mentioned by the L-G in his previous remarks on the actual excise policy of 2021-22. It was only when the file pertaining to opening liquor shops after completion of the tender and allotment of licenses to vendors went to the L-G that he raised this new objection at the last moment, Sisodia claimed.

“Because of this, the Delhi government suffered losses worth thousands of crores of rupees, as close to 300-350 shops that were to open in unauthorised colonies could never operate under the new regime. As a result, the few companies who managed to open liquor shops in Delhi earned huge profits, while others suffered. The primary aim of the new excise policy was to put an end to the inequitable distribution of liquor shops, which could never be achieved because of the decision of the L-G,” Sisodia said, alleging that the L-G’s “sudden change in stance” could have been intentional in order to benefit certain private companies or individuals.

Minutes after Sisodia’s allegations on Saturday, the Raj Niwas stated that L-G VK Saxena approved the suspension and initiation of “major disciplinary proceedings” against the then Delhi excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna and DANICS officer Anand Kumar Tiwari (deputy excise commissioner), apart from three other ad hoc DANICS officers and four DASS cadre officials.

The excise policy 2021-22, approved by the state cabinet chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in May last year, came under a lot of fire after the new L-G – VK Saxena – referred it to the CBI for a probe, flagging multiple irregularities.

The policy has been extended just for a month to prevent an untoward law and order situation, and ensure smooth transition to a system where only government-run stores will sell liquor from September 1.

HT has sought response from the L-G office regarding the development, and this copy will be updated as soon as Raj Niwas issues a statement.



  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR




    Sweta Goswami writes on urban development, transport, energy and social welfare in Delhi. She prefers to be called a storyteller and has given voice to several human interest stories. She is currently cutting her teeth on multimedia storytelling.

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