The AAP government’s troubles over its liquor policy refuse to go away, with its own party MLA moving a breach of privilege notice against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday over the replies he had given to questions raised on the issue on the floor of the Delhi Assembly.
AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who has been at odds with the party leadership and has rebelled against the government on previous occasions also, moved the breach of privilege notice, claiming that Sisodia had “lied” in response to the two questions that he had asked on the issue of giving licences to liquor vends in the capital.
To a question raised by Pushkar on whether the opinion of the local residents was ascertained before opening any of the new vends or giving them licences to open, Sisodia had replied that under the present rules, taking the opinion of the people was not necessary.
Pushkar, however, cited Section 24 of the Delhi Excise Rules 2010 to accuse Sisodia of lying and hence committing breach of privilege. As per Section 24, the Deputy Commissioner shall take all reasonable steps to ascertain the opinion of persons who reside or have property in the neighbourhood and are likely to be affected by the proposal to open a liquor vend.
“It is obvious that the Delhi government opened the liquor vends without getting the consent of the local residents. And to hide its wrongdoings, it is lying in the Vidhan Sabha. It is really shocking that senior ministers of the government are lying,” said Pushkar.
The AAP MLA’s second question was whether the consent of the local MLA was required before a liquor vend is opened. The answer given was that the consent of the MLA was not necessary. Pushkar, however, said that as per the excise rules, while granting licence, the area MLA should have given his positive opinion for it.
The Kejriwal government is facing criticism for its liquor policy, with colleagues-turned-political foes Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan launching a campaign against the AAP government on the issue. Kejriwal recently stated that no new liquor vends will be opened in the coming year.