The impact of Delhi’s liquor policy rollback
Gleaming establishments ushering in world-class user experience to customers. A safe environment for women to buy liquor. An end to cartelisation, poor quality of alcohol and entrenched lobby groups controlling availability, finances and distribution. These were some of the promises made when Delhi adopted a new excise policy last year. Unfortunately, the promises have come to nought. The Delhi government announced this week that it will be reverting to its old excise policy and allowing liquor to be sold only through government outlets. This rollback came against the backdrop of a bruising battle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and lieutenant-governor VK Saxena, who reports to the Union home ministry, over alleged irregularities in the distribution of liquor licences. Mr Saxena last week recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22.
However, this political saga plays out — the AAP blames the Bharatiya Janata Party, which argues that the rollback indicates possible wrongdoing — one thing is clear: The customer will be the worst affected. With queues, panic-selling and the return of the theka, the possibility of a dignified purchase appears to be over, as is the likelihood of finding a wide variety of brands or customers feeling safe while buying liquor. It remains to be seen whether the reason for the crisis is political one-upmanship or corruption, but all parties concerned would do well to ensure governance and transparency are not affected by partisan squabbles that only hurt the quality of life of the ordinary Delhiite.