The tussle between the Centre and Delhi government over the Delhi excise policy row continued to brew as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday demanded a CBI probe against former Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal alleging his decisions had caused a loss to the exchequer.
The BJP, however, hit back claiming that Sisodia was making the allegations as he was facing the heat in the matter.
Addressing a press conference, Sisodia claimed that the government had to incur huge losses because of the "deliberate" change of stance by then Lieutenant Governor Baijal on the new excise policy just 48 hours ahead of its implementation last year.
Sisodia wrote to the CBI seeking an investigation into Baijal's change of stance on the opening of liquor shops in "unauthorised areas".
"I have written to CBI asking them to probe how the government was made to suffer losses and profits were extended to some shopkeepers by changing things indirectly in the passed policy of the government," he said.
Sisodia claimed that the LG had suggested a few changes in the first draft of policy that was sent to him, and approved the new policy when it was presented to him the next time without objecting to the opening of liquor shops in the "unauthorised" areas.
"In the earlier excise policy, the shops were distributed very unevenly. So in the new excise policy, it was decided that the shops will be distributed equally. In May 2021, the new policy was passed and sent to the LG for approval. He read the policy carefully before his approval gave important suggestions. Incorporating all his suggestions, the Cabinet sent a new policy again to the LG in June, which he approved," he said.
"It was mentioned in the policy that inequitable distribution would be ended. The shops will be distributed equally, even in the unauthorised areas. He had neither objected to the opening of shops in the unauthorised areas, nor gave any suggestions for change when he had read the policy earlier," Sisodia.
Sisodia, who also heads Delhi Excise Department, alleged that the LG changed his stance when the files to open the shops were sent to him for approval.
"When the files to open the shops went to LG, he changed his stance. The LG office changed its decision. Here lies to root of all the losses caused to the government. The proposal to open the shops were sent to him in the first week of November 2021, as the shops had to be opened on November 17, 2021. The LG put added a new condition just two days ahead of the opening of the shops, that approval from the DDA and MCD should be sought before opening the shops in the unauthorised areas," he said.
"It is important to note that the shops have been opening in the unauthorised areas for long with the approval of the LG. He knew that the approval had to be sent by his office, not by DDA or MCD. Because of his change in stand, the shops could not be opened in the unauthorised areas. Due to this, the new licensees approached the court which ordered that the license fees should not be taken from the unauthorised wards," the Minister added alleging that the government incurred losses of thousands of crores because of Baijal's move.
Sisodia further alleged that the shops that opened after the move of the LG benefitted by thousands of crores while the ones that did not open suffered huge losses, thus forcing the Delhi government to incur losses.
"When decision was changed, some shops could not be opened, but some new were opened. The ones who opened the shops benefitted thousands of crores from it. The benefits were extended to those who opened their shops in the authorised areas deliberately. So that some vendors benefitted from it, while some incurred losses," he alleged.
"I am sending it to the CBI because it is very important to probe why did he change his own stand that he took earlier. Why was the decision changed 48 hours before?" Sisodia added.
However, the BJP hit back at the Delhi deputy chief minister. BJP's Amit Malviya claimed that Sisodia addressing the press conference to "defend himself" shows that "noose is tightening around him".
"Manish Sisodia's press conference to defend himself in the massive Liquor Excise scam in Delhi just shows that he knows that the noose is tightening around him... Here are the facts. He should prepare to join Satyendra Jain soon, in jail, as the long arm of law catches up," Malviya tweeted.
Baijal was appointed as the Delhi LG by the centre's ruling BJP. (ANI)