New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) Delhi BJP leaders on Thursday staged a protest at the Jantar Mantar here against the Arvind Kejriwal-led government's revised excise policy and demanded its rollback.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, however, said the policy will help clampdown on liquor mafia operating in the national capital.
The Delhi government had approved on March 23 a new excise policy which had lowered the legal drinking age to 21 from 25 years. It had also withdrawn the government from running liquor vends in Delhi. According to the government, the move is expected to lead to an annual revenue growth of 20 per cent.
Earlier in the day, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta and other senior leaders of the party offered prayers at Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi at Rajghat, praying for 'good senses' to prevail so that the excise policy is withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
Addressing the protesters at Jantar Mantar, BJP National General Secretary Arun Singh alleged that the new excise policy is 'totally anti-people' and the saffron workers will take to the streets to oppose it.
Gupta claimed there are 88 municipal wards with no liquor shops but due to the new policy, alcohol will now be sold there. He said the move to hand over 500 government liquor vends to private parties smacks of a 'scam' and needs to be thoroughly probed.
BJP MP from New Delhi constituency Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Kejriwal government of 'promoting alcoholism' in the city.
The protesters included former Union minister Vijay Goel, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri among others.
However, Sisodia said the revised excise policy will 'shut shops of criminals'.
The liquor mafia of Delhi runs about 2,000 illegal shops and steals tax worth around Rs 1,500-2,000 crores. Arvind Kejriwal's new excise policy will end this illegal business, he said in a statement issued on Thursday, In the last two years, the excise department has recovered 7 lakh bottles of illegal liquor from this mafia, arrested around 2,000 people, and closed hundreds of illegal shops. Now their entire business will shut, Sisodia said. PTI VIT UZM RHL