The Delhi government today accused the national capital's former Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal of corruption in the new excise policy -- which has been rolled back following a CBI probe into its implementation -- causing a loss of "thousands of crores" to the state government. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also heads the excise department, hit out at the former LG, recommending a CBI probe into his alleged sudden change of mind which the Aam Aadmi Party claimed was done to benefit a few liquor shop owners. Mr Sisodia also asked for a probe to find out if the LG took the decision under pressure and whether any Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had anything to do with it.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra asked why Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also heads the excise department, was silent so far.
The BJP has hit back, questioning Mr Sisodia's silence on the issue so far, and alleging that the Aam Aadmi party needs a "sacrificial lamb" for the "irregularities" the CBI is going to find.
"The Kejriwal government is trying to divert attention from irregularities in its excise policy by blaming (the former) LG as they need a sacrificial lamb since the CBI probe is going to uncover those irregularities," Mr Patra said at a press conference.
Excise Policy 2021-22 को कई बार ध्यान से पढ़कर, अपने सुझाव देकर और मंजूर करने के बावजूद, LG office ने शराब की दुकानें खुलने के ठीक 2 दिन पहले अपना फैसला बदला।— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) August 6, 2022
इससे दिल्ली सरकार को हज़ारों करोड़ो का नुकसान हुआ और चंद दुकानों को हजारों करोड़ो का फायदा पहुंचाया गया।
"Due to change of decision in LG office, some shopkeepers got profit of thousands of crores and government lost thousands of crores," he said, adding that the new Excise Policy of Delhi 2021-22 benefited some people as it was not allowed to be implemented properly.
Anil Baijal was the Delhi LG when the Arvind Kejriwal government prepared the new excise policy, which was implemented on November 17, 2021. He is yet to comment on the allegations.
In the new excise policy which was passed in May 2021, it was decided that there would be an equal number of liquor shops in every area, Mr Sisodia said. Earlier there were up to 20 shops in one place, while none in some others, he claimed.
"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. There will also be shops in unauthorised colonies. LG sahib approved it after reading it completely. The policy was approved by the LG sahib, with no objection," he claimed.
Mr Sisodia then accused the LG of changing his stand once the file to open the shops reached him.
The proposal to open shops in the first week of November reached the former LG, he said, adding that in November, he made a new condition that the approval of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) would have to be taken to open a shop in an unauthorised colony.
The Deputy Chief Minister claimed that earlier this was not the case, and just approval from LG was needed.
"Because of this, the licensees suffered, many suffered because the LG sahib changed the decision. The license holders reached the court because their shops could not open while some shopkeepers benefited greatly at their expense," he said.
Mr Sisodia claimed that the state government lost "thousands of crores of rupees" as the decision was changed 48 hours before shops were to open.
About 300 to 350 shops could not open because the former LG changed his stand, he claimed.
Demanding a CBI enquiry into the change of decision, Mr Sisodia questioned if someone pressurised the LG. "It should also be probed if the former LG took the decision under pressure and whether any Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had anything to do with it," he added.
The Excise Policy 2021-22, which was extended twice after March 31 for a period of two months each, will come to an end on July 31.
The excise department is still working on the Excise Policy 2022-23 that recommends, among other things, home delivery of liquor in Delhi. The draft policy is reportedly yet to be sent to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena for his approval.
VK Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into the alleged violation of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22, under which licences were issued to private firms for the retail sale of liquor in the city divided into 32 zones.
The LG today also suspended 11 officials, including ex-Delhi excise commissioner Arav Gopi Krishna, over lapses in implementing excise policy, news agency PTI reported quoting sources.