Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Tuesday said he was not opposed to prohibition — a complete ban on the sale and consumption of liquor — in the capital.
Sisodia, who is also in charge of the finance department, said he didn’t “want revenue generated from the sale of alcohol”.
Saying he and most of the ministers in the AAP government were teetotalers, Sisodia said prohibition would be successful only if it was implemented across the country.
The minister made the comments while responding to a query on the government’s excise policy during the second day of the Delhi Assembly’s monsoon session. He said the revised excise policy has been forwarded to Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung for approval.
Sisodia said if prohibition was implemented right now, the policy would not work as those who wanted to drink would end up procuring alcohol from neighbouring states. “Merely declaring a state as prohibition state is not a solution… then the financial benefit will be reaped by Haryana or other neighbouring states,” he added.
Taking on the Haryana government over its liquor policy, the deputy chief minister said, “The opposition is talking about micro breweries… There is no account of the number of micro breweries in Gurgaon and Faridabad, and how they are running their businesses,” added Sisodia.
Earlier, BJP MLA Vijender Gupta accused the Delhi government of being responsible for the increasing number of liquor shops in the capital. “… The government is trying to misguide everyone. You talk of drug abuse in Punjab… but you are promoting liquor to earn more revenue,” claimed the leader of opposition in Delhi Assembly.
Gupta and BJP MLA Jagdish Pradhan later staged a walkout to protest the AAP government’s ‘alcohol policy’.
But Sisodia dismissed claims about the number of liquor shops having “doubled” in the capital, saying as per figures by the excise department, the government had given L6 licences for only six such additional shops.
He claimed that politicians who had been “affected” by the revised excise policy were behind such “rumours”.
“… The revenue collected by the excise department has increased because we have stopped leakages, not because we have increased the number of shops. I want my officials to find out how much stake politicians have in alcohol-related businesses, just like they have in private hospitals and private schools. As much as 50 per cent of the revenue ends up going to officials and politicians,” said Sisodia.
Pointing out that as per the revised excise policy, permission from mohalla sabhas was needed to open a liquor shop in an area, Sisodia claimed no such shops would be set up in residential areas. “It is better if these shops are opened in air-conditioned malls,” said Sisodia.
Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and some AAP MLAs also joined in the discussion, saying liquor shops in their localities had been shifted after objection from residents.