New Delhi: Amid an ongoing investigation by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and a face-off between Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and the Delhi government, the liquor policy row in the capital has taken a fresh turn.
With only two days left for the current excise policy to expire, the Delhi government has decided to go back to the old regime of retail liquor sales for six months.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish 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.
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. (With inputs from ANI)