Former Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Delhi Anil Baijal Tuesday said the allegations levelled against him by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in connection with the new liquor policy, were “baseless” and “motivated”, and called him a “desperate man saving his own skin by perpetrating allegations against others”.
Last week, Sisodia, who also holds the excise portfolio, said he had written to the CBI requesting a probe into what he claimed was a sudden change in former L-G Baijal’s decision on opening vends in unauthorised areas. This caused “thousands of crores of losses” to the Delhi government, he alleged. He had also claimed the change in decision came “48 hours before implementation of the policy on ground” on November 17, 2021.
Stating that facts are now in the public domain, Baijal said, “In the matter of not allowing liquor vends in non-conforming areas, (I) discharged my constitutional responsibility of upholding the laws of the land. No law in Delhi, even today, allows for opening of liquor vends in non-conforming areas.”
Baijal added: “Raising doubts and levelling allegations against the L-G’s decisions has been a norm ever since the AAP has formed the government in Delhi. The allegations now made by Manish Sisodia are baseless and are motivated against me. They are nothing but blatant lies and falsehoods being perpetrated by a desperate man to save his own skin.” He added that the Deputy CM is trying to find some alibi for “his and his colleagues’ acts of commission and omissions”.
Baijal said the AAP government and its excise minister appeared to have “initially claimed record revenue through excise by manipulating figures; but when that got utterly exposed, they are now playing this deplorable game of blaming me by distorting facts and painting a false narrative”.
The ex-LG added that he flagged “unlawful” decisions taken by the AAP government on several occasions during the implementation of the new excise policy.
“In view of the multiple cases which came to be filed during that period and their pendency in courts, and further in view of various observations made therein, I had decided to set up a committee under chairmanship of VC-DDA with divisional commissioner, excise commissioner, commissioners of DMCs, secretary (IT) and representative of National Institute of Urban Affairs, MoHUA, as its members to examine setting up of liquor vends in non-conforming areas,” said Baijal.
He said the committee on December 10 submitted its report and decided that with regard to 67 non-conforming wards, the excise department can consider allowing the licensee of such wards to open additional vends in conforming areas of such adjoining wards where conforming areas exist or any other ward allotted to the licensee. “Accordingly, no permission was granted for opening liquor vends in non-conforming areas,” said the former L-G.
Responding to Baijal’s statement, the Delhi government said: “Instead of diverting from the actual issue, the ex-LG needs to answer what made him change his stand just 48 hours before opening of shops? Why did he deliberately cause so much loss to the government and give undue favours to selected licensees? Who forced him to take a stand against the policy passed by the cabinet and L-G himself?”
Baijal further said he has upheld constitutional values and laws of the land, in letter and spirit, during his entire tenure: “The record will speak for itself; I dismiss the claims made by the government and its excise minister in toto. Time and investigation will reveal the truth. As a public functionary, I have always worked with the highest degree of moral values and ethics.”
Sisodia had announced on July 30 that the new excise policy would be rolled back. This came after current L-G VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the new policy over alleged irregularities, and Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing launched a probe into the excise department.