AAP’s new liquor policy lands it into trouble with MCD polls a month away
Arvind Kejriwal government has landed itself into trouble with the new liquor policy with just a month to go for MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) elections. This is crucial because MCD remains under BJP’s control even after Aam Aadmi Party won two successive Assembly elections in the national capital, and this time AAP is looking forward to bring it under its control.
Kejriwal government’s rather liberal policy in Delhi exits government out of the liquor business. Under AAP’s policy for the sector, the official drinking age has been reduced from 25 years to 21 years in Delhi, home delivery of alcohol is allowed. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said while announcing the new policy last March, “selling liquor should not be the business of a government”
But with civic polls a month from now, AAP has taken step back after allegations of corruption and negligence by the corporations, thus giving a golden ticket to its key opponent Bharatiya Janata Party.
Just four months after implementing its liberal policy, AAP had to amend its and ban the liquor vendors from offering discounts. This has landed Kejriwal government with a court case. The government has however, defended its decision citing overcrowding by customers at the shops leading to law and order problems.
For past 15 years, BJP has been in power in Delhi’s three municipalities. But past three years have seen AAP focusing on corporations, conducting protests and also cashing in on MCD employees’ protests over salary non-payment. But after liquor policy came in, it was BJP that was holding protests.
Before policy, Delhi had about 850 liquor shops with over half being run by government. After policy, the number of vendors was to remain the same which meant reallocation for even distribution. This led to shutting down of many vends and starting of new ones in other locations. This triggered first round of protests.
A government official said, “The fact is that the changes in the policy have brought significant funds to the government. There are several teething problems, but we believe they will sort themselves out. The government has decided to tackle any backlash through the officials and the Excise Department, not through politics.”
Protests are a golden opportunity for BJP as AAP faces backlash over policy amendment. MCD polls are crucial for AAP to keep intact its anti-corruption campaign after it had registered considerable vote share drop after the 2015 Assembly polls coming behind BJP.