The Delhi Assembly on Tuesday witnessed a heated debate between the AAP and the BJP over the new excise policy, with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claiming the opposition was “rattled by the stoppage of its Rs 3,500 crore earning through commission”. Leader of the Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri challenged that either the BJP will get the liquor vends in residential areas closed or he will leave politics.
He alleged that 90 per cent of the liquor vends being opened under the new policy violated the Delhi Master Plan. “I swear in the name of Lord Ram that I will get the liquor vends in residential areas closed or will leave politics,” the BJP MLA said in the House.
Sisodia said with the new excise policy, revenue from liquor sales in Delhi has increased from Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 9500 crore. Under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi government closed 3,977 illegal liquor shops in Delhi, he said, adding, “The new policy stopped the theft of Rs 3,500 crore that earlier used to go to BJP leaders. “Now this money has been added to the revenue of Delhi government,” the deputy chief minister said.
He termed that the Delhi Development Authority’s master plan a ‘commission plan” and a “disaster plan” that was aimed at restricting people from opening shops legally in almost half of Delhi. BJP MLA Ajay Mahawar said, “Those who opposed privatisation, have privatised liquor vends.” “Kejriwal has written in his book that liquor shops should not be opened in any locality without the approval of Mohalla Sabha or Gram Sabha concerned… there are no Mohalla Sabha in Delhi,” he said.
As the ruling party and opposition locked horns over the issue, the Assembly Speaker ordered marshalling out BJP MLA Vijender Gupta as he interrupted chief whip Dilip Pandey when he was defending the policy Sisodia alleged that before the new liquor policy, illegal liquor shops were being run in about 80 wards of Delhi “under the patronage of BJP leaders in connivance with the civic bodies and police”. “The excise revenue has increased to Rs 9,500 crore and the theft of Rs 3,500 crore has been stopped by the new liquor policy,” he claimed.
Sisodia claimed that in Bihar and Gujarat where liquor is banned, “the revenue of around Rs 10,000 crore which the Gujarat government should have received is being earned by the BJP leaders there. Bihar is also doing the same.” After AAP came to power, the Kejriwal government took several steps to reform liquor sale, he said. “We rotated duty of excuse inspectors in different areas and stopped bribes in their transfer. With this simple change, revenue was increased from Rs 3,400 crore to Rs 4,238 crore in one year. It went further up to Rs 5,200 crore by 2018,” Sisodia said.
He said compared to BJP-ruled states, Delhi will have around one liquor vend per 30,000 people that is lower than one liquor store for every 11,000 people in Bengaluru, one for every 2,000 in Gurgaon, one for every 3,000 people in Ghaziabad and one shop for 1,541 people in Noida. Minister Satyendar Jain said that four Delhi government corporations ran liquor vends under the old policy. “We asked the excise department to take back liquor sale from the corporations. Now the revenue has increased by Rs 3,500 crore,” he said.
Under the new excise policy, the Delhi government has privatised retail liquor sale, allocating 849 bends across the city through a tendering process. It has quit the retail liquor sale. The Assembly adjourned sine die on Tuesday.