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In charges that were countered by the Chief Minister as politically motivated and the latest in a long-running BJP campaign to target the AAP, a media release from Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena's office alleged several violations of established law "in addition to deliberate and gross procedural lapses to provide post tender undue benefits to liquor licensees".
The AAP claimed Mr Saxena is acting on the direction of the Centre, which is desperate to stem the party's rising popularity.
Directly naming Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Lieutenant Governor said the report indicates "substantial" financial favours at the top political level. The new excise policy was implemented "with the sole aim" of benefitting private liquor barons for financial benefits to individuals at the highest echelons of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia, the Lieutenant Governor alleged.
"Minister In-charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia took and got executed, major decisions/actions in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications," Mr Saxena's statement said.
He also accused Mr Sisodia of extending undue financial favours to the liquor licensees much after the tenders had been awarded, causing "huge losses" to the ex-chequer.
Aam Aadmi Party has slammed the Centre, accusing it of creating trouble for political vendetta. Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said PM Modi and his party are "jealous" of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP's recent electoral successes and would do anything to stop them.
"We knew that BJP and PM Modi were nervous after AAP's victory in Punjab," Mr Bhardwaj said, adding that the Centre had made all possible efforts to try to stop Arvind Kejriwal from working in Delhi 2016, and is doing the same again.
BJP leaders have welcomed the LG's suggestion, saying they have also been demanding a probe into the policy. In a press conference by the party, Union Minister and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi attacked Mr Kejriwal, asking him a set of questions "before he gave himself certificates of honesty". She said the Delhi government enacted the liquor policy illegally and it is a "fraud on the people of the national capital". Ms Lekhi then asked a series of pointed questions using specific details from the LG's statement earlier today.
The new Excise policy 2021-22 was implemented from November 17 last year under which retail licences were given to private bidders for 849 vends across the city divided into 32 zones.
Many liquor stores failed to open for being located in non-confirming areas of the city. Several such vends were sealed by the municipal corporations. The BJP and Congress had strongly opposed the policy and lodged complaint with the Lieutenant Governor as well as central agencies for a probe into it.
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