The liquor policy of the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi is in question. CBI is investigating against Education and Excise Minister Manish Sisodia. On these allegations, Sharad Gupta, Senior Editor (Business & Politics), Lokmat Media Group, put pointed questions to Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh. Here are the highlights…
How strong is the CBI case against Manish Sisodia?
Manish Sisodia is not mentioned in the CBI FIR. There is also no mention of the allegations leveled by the BJP. Not 144 million, not 30 million, not 1000 million, not 1.5 billion billion. These are the numbers that the BJP has been throwing out in this matter on different occasions. Budget of whole Delhi is 70 billion and BJP alleges that this scam is 1.5 billion. One can understand how ridiculous the situation BJP has got itself into.
In this matter four main things come together. There was a loss of Rs 144 crore to the exchequer, money was returned to liquor traders, contracts were awarded to blacklisted companies and shops were opened in restricted areas. What do you have to say about these?
There is no basis for these allegations. There were 849 contracts in the old liquor policy. No stores were increased in the new policy. Due to objections raised by the then lieutenant governor, only 468 stores could be opened. In other words, 400 fewer shops were opened than before. But still the publicity is happening as if liquor shops have been opened on the streets of Delhi.
In other words, your government has not committed any irregularities?
There is no basis for misinformation. 468 shops have been opened in Delhi but neighboring Noida has 525 liquor shops, Goa has 2200 liquor shops and Bengaluru has 1700 contracts. All these cities are in BJP ruled state and their population is much less than Delhi.
What difference did his government make by opening fewer stores?
Our income hasn’t even halved. Excise taxes account for 21 percent of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka’s revenue, while 20.8 percent of the Madhya Pradesh government’s revenue comes from the sale of liquor. But only Rs 6000 crore, ie 9 percent of the Delhi government’s Rs 70000 crore budget comes from the sale of liquor. By bringing new policy, we wanted to bring it to 9000 crores, but due to BJP’s obstacles, a lot of damage has been done.
– Has your government also lowered the drinking age?
There is another lie that BJP spokespersons are spreading morning and evening. Even today, the legal drinking age in Delhi is 25, while it is 21 in neighboring BJP-ruled Gurgaon and Noida.
If there was no deficiency in your new policy, why was it withdrawn?
Exact question. In fact, due to BJP’s objections to the new policy, we could only open 468 shops. We were losing revenue. That is why we have brought the old policy in which there is a forecast to open 849 shops.
But in the latest sting video, the father of the person named in the CBI FIR talks about money transactions?
Did he name Arvind Kejriwal or Manish Sisodia or any Aam Aadmi Party government minister? How many videos can I make and show like this where people talk about giving money to the prime minister. There must be some basis and evidence for such allegations. We’re saying that whatever you have to do, you won’t get anything. The scammer is afraid. We are not afraid.
But you are repeatedly accusing the BJP, on the contrary, through the achievements of education, operation Lotus, horse-trading of MPs and the special session of the Vidhan Sabha. Isn’t this to distract?
They attacked Arvind Kejriwal’s office, raided Manish Sisodia’s house and tried to trap us through the Shunglu Committee. Our 450 files are being examined by central agencies. Nothing came out. They filed different types of cases against our 40 MPs. All were rejected by the court. Now his condition has become that of a wolf. But even if we tell the truth about them, the media says it as an attempt to divert attention.
You are terming the cases and raids against you in Delhi as political action but in Punjab your government is also prosecuting political opponents. Isn’t this hypocrisy?
We had formed our party against corruption. We will not spare any corrupt person. So far, we have freed 6000 acres of land in Punjab by taking action against land mafia. Action is being taken against the unauthorized occupants of these lands, irrespective of the party they belong to. We have taken action against our two ministers without complaint. Has the BJP taken action against any of its leaders or ministers on corruption charges so far?
– Where are you aiming?
I say frankly, the BJP leaders themselves took out a booklet against corruption in the water scam of the current Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma when he was in Congress. Now the BJP is defending them. Why not a CBI and ED investigation against him? Devendra Fadnavis, for whom Ajit Pawar never tired of talking about the grind of the mill, the grind of the mill and was forming the government with him at 6 am. Devendra Fadnavis, who had raised the sky over his head to get Sanjay Rathore sacked from the cabinet, included him in his cabinet. Was anyone punished in Vyapam in which many people killed themselves or was there any investigation into Yeddyurappa’s corruption? Theirs is the hypocrisy of honesty.