New Delhi: Delhi’s Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) units are agitating against the Delhi government’s new excise policy. On Friday, Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar convened a meeting of the Block Congress Committee observers to plan a series of protests against this policy. On Thursday, a delegation led by Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta and Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, met Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal and demanded that the policy should be rolled back. They submitted a memorandum to L-G against the new excise policy. It has objected to the government’s decision to lower the drinking age and privatize 500 government-run liquor shops.

Adesh Gupta, president, BJP-Delhi unit, told The Sunday Guardian: “We will soon start a signature campaign against this policy. It’s not the job of the Delhi government to make money from alcohol. I understand they need revenue, but there are a lot of other means to generate that. There will be corruption in this too as they are doing privatization. They have also given age and time relaxation. Who will be responsible when this move creates more crimes in Delhi? Also, as per the policy, in case of disputes or quarrels, shop owner will be responsible. This policy will create disharmony in families and push youngsters into alcoholism. Bihar, which actually needs more funds, has banned alcohol. They have peace and development and less crime. We will take this issue among the people. This will be the most unsafe policy for women. We are going to plan massive agitation against this policy.”

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced excise reforms in order to end “liquor mafia raj” in the national capital. The Delhi government has also decided to reduce the age of alcohol consumption from 25 years to 21 years. While addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the new excise policy was approved by the Cabinet on the basis of recommendations of the Group of Ministers and it will act as a major blow to the liquor mafia in the Union Territory. Sisodia also said that the Delhi excise revenue to increase by Rs 1,500-2000 crore after the new policy implementation. Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister also said that India’s first international checking laboratory will be established in Delhi to check spurious liquor, which will check and ensure the quality of liquor. As per the new policy, proxy ownership and low-quality shops will be shut down in Delhi. There will be zero tolerance for liquor shops creating disturbances in localities. The government liquor shops will be shut down as it’s not the job of the government to sell liquor and no new liquor shops will be opened, Sisodia added.

On Tuesday, while addressing protesters at the Shahdara Bus Terminal Delhi, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta alleged that the Kejriwal government is the first in the country which is pushing youths towards alcoholism to increase its own revenue. Some of the party workers also burnt Kejriwal’s effigy to mark their protest. Gupta wondered whether the Kejriwal government is unmindful of the fact that more liquor shops would not only lead to an increase in the crime rate in Delhi, but also make it the liquor capital. “Did Delhites elect him for this day? he posed. Gupta said in the statement that the right thing would have been for the government to tighten the liquor policy to make Delhi safe for women and keep youngsters away from the liquor.

Jai Kisan, vice-president, Delhi Congress, told The Sunday Guardian: “This is policy is completely wrong. This will turn Delhi into Sharab-Nagari. Why did they lower the age to 21 years? Should 21-year-olds be students and become doctors, engineers or should they become alcoholics? They are just kids. Who will study then? They are just colluding with liquor mafias. This should be investigated. This will of course increase the crime rates. Also, the private players will exploit the consumers. We will keep on protesting till the policy is rolled back. This is completely wrong. Congress is the only party that cares about the people and the future of the younger generation. BJP and AAP just care about power and election victory.”