The standoff between Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party government and the Center intensified on Friday after the lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe into New Delhi’s excise policy implemented by the state government.
This action was taken on the basis of the report of Chief Secretary of Delhi Government Narendra Kumar. The chief secretary had sent a report to the lieutenant governor on July 8, which pointed out seven “gross procedural errors committed deliberately”. The report said these lapses resulted in “undue advantages” for the liquor licensees. The Delhi government’s new excise duty policy was implemented in November last year. Under this, retail licenses were given to 849 vendors to sell liquor across Delhi.
Finding sufficient indications of financial transactions between the ruling party and the licensees, the report ordered a CBI probe. Manish Sisodia is the target in this whole case which has the Tax Department. Kejriwal’s health minister Satyendar Jain is already in jail for money laundering.
Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the BJP, saying the case was completely “false”. Manish Sisodia is ‘hardcore honest and patriot’. Kejriwal said, ‘The case against him is completely false and baseless. There is not even an iota of truth in the allegations.
Kejriwal did not respond to certain allegations in the report sent by the chief secretary to the lieutenant governor. They only kept making political targets on BJP. “I was told that they (BJP) wanted to arrest him (Manish Sisodia) and were looking for a false case to implicate him,” he said. Using harsh words, he said, ‘You people (BJP) are the aulad (son) of Savarkar who apologized to the British and we are the children of Bhagat Singh who hanged himself. We are not afraid of going to jail.
Kejriwal said: ‘BJP is targeting our party because we are an honest party and BJP is trying to prove that we are as corrupt as them. They throw mud at us by making false claims, but the public will not believe their lies.
In a joint press conference, BJP leaders Meenakshi Lekhi, Adesh Gupta and Ramveer Singh Bidhuri targeted Kejriwal and said the Aam Aadmi Party government was encouraging factionalism to benefit the liquor companies. New Delhi MP and Union External Affairs Minister Meenakshi Lekhi alleged that licensees were given exemption of Rs 144.4 crore and earnest money of Rs 30 crore from a company was returned without following the rules and procedures. He also alleged that the AAP government gave liquor licenses to a blacklisted company for two out of 32 areas in Delhi.
Meenakshi Lekhi said, “She doesn’t know who will go to jail, but there are documents and signatures that prove her complicity in taking the decision to implement the new excise policy and the irregularities.” On 21 October last year, the Tax Agency had notified the licensing companies. But on July 14 this year, without a cabinet memo, the same companies got a rebate of Rs 144.4 crore.
BJP leaders alleged that all this happened at the behest of CM Kejriwal who made arbitrary changes in the excise policy, took hasty decisions and it did not happen without dealing with suppliers. BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa claimed that the Delhi Cabinet had approved the new excise duty policy in March last year. In April, a group of ministers made some changes in the policy and the new policy, implemented on November 17 last year, closed more than 600 government-run liquor shops and allowed private sellers to get licences. Delhi was divided into 32 zones.
Initially, it was decided that producer, distributor and dealer should be separate and that a company would not be licensed for more than two zones. But in reality the Delhi government has given license to only one company in 5-5 zones. The condition was that if no one fulfills the conditions after receiving the tender, the earnest money would be forfeited, but it is claimed that Manish Sisodia returned the deposited Rs 30 crore. Not only this, Rs 144 crore was waived on the name to compensate the loss incurred by the sellers during the Corona period.
Sirsa came out with all the details of the disturbances. He claimed that of the 12 percent profit guaranteed by the Kejriwal government to middlemen in the new liquor policy, 6% was withdrawn in cash as commission. Sirsa said that even after giving a bottle of liquor for free in Delhi, there was a turn of white to black. He said that on the liquor contract, one bottle of liquor was given for free, but the liquor companies used to deposit money equal to the cost of both bottles in the bank. Sirsa claimed that the money from one bottle was taken from the customer and the liquor company’s black money equivalent to the price of the second bottle was deposited as white in the bank.
The chief secretary to the Delhi government had pointed out some procedural flaws in his report to the lieutenant governor. First, the lowest bidder for the airport zone license was also refunded a serious sum of Rs 30 crore as he could not get a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the airport authorities. As per Delhi Excise Rules-2010, the selected tenderer has to complete all the formalities for the license failing which the security deposit deposited by him will be forfeited by the Govt.
Secondly, the formula for fixing the price of foreign liquor was revised and the import duty of Rs 50 per case of beer “without the approval of the authorized authority” was removed, leading to loss of revenue to the exchequer. Third, instead of taking criminal action for non-payment of license fee, interest and penalty, relaxed provisions in the tender document were implemented to provide undue financial benefits to L7Z (retail) licensees. There are 4 other procedural errors in the Chief Secretary’s report which I will not go into.
Kejriwal says he will be scolded in court but he does not tell that Satyendra Jain went from lower court to high court but did not get bail. Is the judiciary also against Kejriwal and his party?
Kejriwal had given a similar character certificate to Jitendra Tomar. Kejriwal had said that I have got his exam checked and it is completely genuine, but later the university gave it in writing that Tomar’s exam was fake and he went to jail. Now Kejriwal does not even take his name.
Kejriwal used to claim that he had brought diamonds by searching for them, by pounding to find pictures of honesty, but his minister Asim Ahmed Khan was caught taking a bribe of Rs 6 lakh from the builder. When the case was opened, Kejriwal himself gave himself a certificate of integrity by recommending a CBI probe.
Another colleague, Sandeep Kumar, was appointed Minister for Women and Child Development. He was accused of raping the woman by promising to make a ration card.
Kejriwal now says that Manish Sisodia will go to jail, but no matter what, BJP cannot intimidate him. But the truth is that neither Kejriwal nor his ministers and colleagues have responded to the allegations in the Chief Secretary’s report. The Aam Aadmi Party leaders blame only the BJP and give a certificate of honesty by calling themselves a martyr. All these things, all these dialogues sound good but won’t work in court. The courts will consider the allegations in the report and the CBI chargesheet, if filed. (Rajat Sharma)
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