Former LG Anil Baijal wades into Delhi excise policy tussle
The incumbent Delhi LG VK Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into alleges lapses in the implementation of the policy’s provisions and suspended 11 excise department officials, including former excise commissioner, and incumbent deputy commissioner Anand Tiwari.
Former lieutenant governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday hit back at Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and said allegations that a “last minute U-turn” by him on excise policy 2021-22 caused losses to the Delhi government are “baseless and motivated”.
“It appears that the AAP government of NCT of Delhi and its excise minister [Sisodia] initially claimed record revenue through excise by manipulating figures; but when that got utterly exposed, they are now playing this deplorable game of blaming me, by distorting facts and painting a false narrative,” Baijal said in a statement shared by the current LG’s office.
The new excise policy was implemented in November, 17, 2021 when Baijal was LG of Delhi.
Baijal said in the note that during his tenure as LG, he upheld the constitutional values and laws of the land, in letter and spirit. “The record will speak for itself and I dismiss the claims made by the government and its excise minister in toto. The time and investigations will reveal the truth. As a public functionary, I have always worked with highest degree of moral values and ethics,” Baijal said.
The note comes in the backdrop of the ongoing controversy over the Delhi excise policy 2021-22. The incumbent LG VK Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into alleges lapses in the implementation of the policy’s provisions and suspended 11 excise department officials, including former excise commissioner, and incumbent deputy commissioner Anand Tiwari.
In a press conference on Saturday, Sisodia alleged that when the excise policy file was sent to Baijal a second time, after accommodating changes suggested by him, it was sent back to the government just 48 hours before the launch of the policy, “asking us to make major changes to it”.
“The LG said that we need to get permission from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the municipal corporation for permitting liquor shops in unauthorised colonies (non-conforming areas),” Sisodia said on Saturday, and added that because of this, the Delhi government suffered losses worth thousands of crores of rupees because nearly 300-350 shops that were to open in unauthorised coloniescould not operate under the new regime.
Baijal rejected this charge. “No law in Delhi, even today, allows for opening of liquor vends in non-conforming areas. In view of the multiple cases which came to be filed during that period and their pendency in courts and further in view of various observations made therein, I decided to set up a committee under the chairmanship of VC DDA with divisional commissioner, excise commissioner, commissioners of Delhi Municipal Corporations, secretary IT, and representative of National Institute of Urban Affairs, MoHUA as its members to examine the setting up of liquor vends in non-conforming areas,” he said.
Baijal’s statement was backed by his successor VK Saxena. “LG VK Saxena, having read the clear and categorical statement issued by former LG, Anil Baijal, expressed grave objection to the deliberately misleading, baseless and motivated allegations made by Manish Sisodia and other AAP leaders against Baijal over last few days. Saxena has advised the chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to ensure that his colleagues in the government and party, refrain from such petty behaviour and statements,” the LG’s office said in a statement.
The Delhi government, however, said that Baijal should not digress from the issue, and instead answer what made him change his stand on shops in unauthorised colonies. “Instead of diverting from the actual issue, the ex-LG needs to answer, what made him change his stand just 48 hours before opening of the shops? Why did he deliberately cause so much loss to the government and give undue favours to selected licensees? Who forced him to take a stand against the policy passed by the cabinet and LG himself?” a Delhi government spokesperson asked.