Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena today recommended an investigation by probe agency Central Bureau of Investigation into the Arvind Kejriwal-led government’s contentious new excise policy. A July 8 report by the Chief Secretary established several violations of established law “in addition to deliberate and gross procedural lapses to provide post tender undue benefits to liquor licensees”, a media release from Mr Saxena’s office said.
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.
The Aaam Aadmi Party has claimed Mr Saxena is acting on the directions of the Centre, which is desperate to stop the party’s rising popularity. 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.
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.
Earlier this week, the Lieutenant Governor had blocked Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Singapore visit. The party had hit back, with Mr Sisodia terming the move “mean politics” at work.
Kejriwal was invited for the “World Cities Summit” back in June by Singapore High Commissioner Simon Wong. He is expected to address the meet on August 1.
With inputs from NDTV