India: Traffic Snarls Across Delhi as BJP Stages Fierce Protests Against New Excise Policy - Videos
11:04 GMT 03.01.2022 (Updated: 10:41 GMT 19.07.2022)
Delhi Deputy Chief Manish Sisodia estimated over $1.3 billion in annual revenue due to the new excise policy in September 2021. The Delhi government said the extra income resulted from reforms in the excise policy as earlier such revenue was stolen.
The Delhi unit of India's ruling BJP staged fierce protests on Monday against the new excise policy of the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government.
The national highway connecting eastern India with Delhi was jammed for 9 kilometres during the protests.
Under the new excise policy, the Delhi government has privatised the entire liquor business from November 2020 and auctioned at least three retail locations in an area of around 60,000 people.
"The Delhi government had claimed that the number of wine shops will not be increased under new excise policy. The number of wine shops increased to 850, three times more than earlier. The government has opened liquor shops near schools, temples, and posh colonies," BJP spokesperson Ajay Sehrawat told Sputnik.
Since Monday morning, several BJP workers and politicians of the city have been blocking roads in different areas of the capital Delhi. As per the traffic police, some protesters also damaged state-owned buses at the National Highway and deflated their' tires.
The BJP workers, who took to the streets against the new excise policy, raised slogans like ''Kejriwal; your dictatorship will not work,'' ''Kejriwal, don't make Delhi addicts," in criticism of the Delhi State Chief Arvind Kejriwal.
"We suspect that the Kejriwal government has direct connection with liquor mafias. Otherwise, this government must have completed the projects related to COVID-19 pandemic. What happened to the oxygen equipment that had to arrive from Singapore, Thailand? This government is prioritising liquor over the COVID-19 pandemic," the BJP spokesperson added.
The Delhi government said its revenue would jump manifold due to the new excise policy.
"Under the new policy, the license fee has been increased substantially. It was around INR one million ($13,455) per vend (retail location) earlier, now around $9 million per vend. The majority of revenue came from excise duty per bottle. For the coming 12 months, the revenue will be around $1.3 billion," Delhi Deputy State Chief Manish Sisodia had stated on 14 September last year.
On Monday, Sisodia countered the allegation of corruption and links with the mafia
, saying the BJP always had a link with the alcohol mafia.
"Illegal alcohol was sold at many places by the BJP. With CM (State Chief) Kejriwal's schemes stopping around $500 million of money from being stolen, the BJP is in pain," Sisodia said.
The BJP, which governs the municipal corporations of Delhi, also threatened the state government of sealing deals directed against Master Plan 2021 (the policy under which the development works take place).
"No one has demanded additional shops in the city. Even people are protesting against the opening of additional retail locations," the BJP spokesperson said.
"If the purpose is additional revenue, this government is failing to generate employment in the city. State directives of the Indian Constitution prohibit the promotion of such policies. This means the Kejriwal government is also working against the constitution," Sehrawat added.
Under the new policy, there will be at least three new liquor shops in every Ward (section) of 272 such localities in the city. The average population size is 60,000 per ward.