‘It’s shocking… will protest’: Smriti targets CM over liquor policy

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Union Minister Smriti Irani Friday targeted the Delhi government’s new excise policy and said it was “shocking that liquor vends were being opened near schools and religious places”.

Speaking at a virtual rally organised by the Delhi BJP, she claimed that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, “the leader who talked of Swaraj and wrote in his book about picketing liquor shops and shutting them down, was now exploring opportunities to open liquor shops in each ward”.

Months before the MCD elections in the capital, the Delhi BJP has been protesting against the new liquor policy.

Irani said that the BJP would continue its protest until the policy is withdrawn. “The Kejriwal government has given a message to the society, that it is ready to go to any lengths for profit. I want to ask the AAP government who will be answerable for families that will be destroyed in this quest… if money earned through liquor can ever help in development,” she said.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had earlier said that liquor shops have not increased in Delhi — in 2015 there were 850 liquor shops, and under the new excise policy, only 501 were opened.

Irani claimed liquor stores were opened close to gurdwaras in Tilak Nagar and that they jeopardised safety of women.

The new policy has seen the Delhi government exit from the business of selling liquor, redistribution of stores across the city, and upfront collection of excise revenue. The three MCDs, ruled by the BJP, have meanwhile closed down several liquor shops over alleged violations of the Master Plan and other norms in the past few months.

Hitting back, the AAP alleged that there was a “nexus” between the BJP and liquor mafia through which it used to earn Rs 3,500 crore. “The back of the liquor mafia has been broken due to the new policy and the illegal earning of BJP has stopped. Rattled by this, BJP leaders are pedalling lies…,” it said in a statement.