Liquor wars: Govt trains guns on former L-G, Sisodia says he changed stance on vends

A week after the Delhi government decided to scrap its new liquor policy, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he has written to the CBI requesting a probe into what he claimed was a sudden change in former L-G Anil Baijal’s decision on opening vends in unauthorised areas. This caused “thousands of crores of losses” to the Delhi government, he alleged. Baijal did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment.
At a press conference on Saturday, Sisodia said: “In May 2021, the Cabinet passed the new excise policy. We said the number of liquor shops will remain the same. But in the earlier policy, shops were unevenly distributed — some wards had 25 shops, some had none… some malls had many shops. In the new policy, this principle was highlighted that there will be equitable distribution of shops, but the number of shops will not change. This was an important provision.”
There were 849 shops earlier, and even under the new policy, the number of shops was to remain the same, as per Sisodia.
The policy was then sent to the L-G for approval and he made important suggestions for changes, Sisodia said. “All suggestions were accepted, and the new policy was sent to the L-G in June. He read it carefully and it was then passed. The policy said unequitable distribution will be stopped. In every ward, there will be two-three shops, including in unauthorised areas,” Sisodia said.
But the L-G’s office then changed its decision, he claimed. “The L-G read the policy and then approved it. After this, tenders were issued… In the first week of November, the proposal to open shops was sent to the L-G, since they were to be opened from November 17 onwards, including in unauthorised areas. On November 15, the L-G laid down a new condition that to open shops in unauthorised areas, permission from the DDA and MCD is needed. When he read the policy, this condition was not laid down,” he said.