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. The Excise Policy 2021-22, which was extended twice after March 31 for two months each, will expire on July 31.
However, the draft policy has yet to be sent to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena for approval.
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.
Right after this move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lashed out at the Centre, saying the Lieutenant Governor was making “false allegations” and leaders of the AAP were “not afraid of jail”.
The Lt Governor’s move follows a report submitted by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar on the matter. The report, which officials said was submitted on July 8, accuses Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor vend licencees in lieu of “kickbacks” and “commissions” and the money being used in the recent Punjab elections.
On July 25, the Delhi Congress staged a protest outside Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s residence here, demanding his resignation over alleged violation of rules and procedural lapses in the city government’s excise policy.
Congress leaders and workers gathered in Patparganj, holding banners and raised slogans against Sisodia and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar alleged that Sisodia, the minister in-charge of the Delhi government’s excise department, is directly responsible for “corrupt deals” with liquor contractors.