New Delhi: North-West Delhi MP Hans Raj Hans of the BJP trained guns on the Aam Aadmi Party government’s new excise policy in Delhi Monday, alleging that it would encourage drinking, especially among women and the youth.
Hans told reporters that ‘pink thekas’ (special liquor counters for women) will encourage women to drink in public. A Delhi government official told ThePrint that currently, the entire retail liquor sector, under the government’s new policy, is operated by private players, and there is no special provision of ‘pink’ liquor vends as such. However, private players have the liberty to create special counters for women.
“Pink theke se pi ke galiyon aur naaliyon mai agar koi gir gayin, achi lagengi auratein aise jhoomti hui? Taras karo iss Delhi pe aur isko roko (Getting drunk after purchasing alcohol from these thekas, women would end up passing out on the streets and in the drains. Would that be a good sight? Have some mercy on Delhi and stop this),” he said.
The AAP government should instead think of ways to inculcate values in “our women”, Hans told a press conference.
The MP’s comments came hours before the AAP government issued an order prohibiting liquor shops from giving discounts and offers like ‘buy one get one’, citing violation of Covid-19 protocols and “unhealthy market practices”.
The BJP has been protesting against Delhi’s revised excise policy, which was rolled out by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in November 2021 with the aim of boosting revenue, reducing graft, checking the illicit liquor trade, and improving the consumer experience at liquor shops.
As part of the revised policy, the Delhi government has awarded licences for 849 new liquor shops across the city, but the BJP says the move will promote alcoholism.
With municipal polls round the corner, the party has stepped up its campaign against the AAP on the issue, calling for a referendum against the policy and threatening to seal liquor shops.
“The BJP will conduct a referendum under which it will seek the opinion of around 10 lakh people on the Kejriwal government’s new excise policy on 4 March,” Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said Monday. For the purpose, four boxes will be kept in each of the 280 wards of the city to get opinions from the public.
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‘Women slapping husbands’
Speaking about the proposed referendum, Hans also conjured a scenario when drunk women may end up slapping their husbands when they return home.
“Earlier, when men used to come home drunk, they used to beat up and abuse women. I wonder what the scenario would be when women come home drunk from these ‘pink thekas’. Ab jab patidev agenge toh kaisa behave hoga? Aate hi do-chaar lappad jad dengi,” he claimed.
Hans cautioned against “such a drinking culture”, and called for immediate action against the excise policy. “I am quite sure that every BJP person and anyone who loves this city will participate in this (referendum), else how would we make India great?” he asked.
Proposing other initiatives, the MP said: “We should encourage them (people) to get into sports and music by opening new institutes. They should be taught the (Bhagavad) Gita and have avenues to expose them to spiritual teachings.”
“Our rishi-munis had not opened any thekas, yet they were always in high spirits due to their spiritual awareness,” he claimed. Instead, “this (AAP) government is concentrating on opening ‘pink thekas’”, he added.
No more discounts on MRP of liquor, says Delhi government
The AAP government Monday issued an order prohibiting liquor shops from offering discounts, rebates or concessions on the maximum retail price (MRP) of liquor.
Under the new excise policy, retailers are allowed to offer discounts, the order said. However, it flagged some issues like overcrowding at liquor stores.
“As a result of the discounts being offered by licensees through their retail vends, there are instances reported of large crowds gathering outside the liquor store, leading to law and order problem and causing inconvenience to local population in an area,” stated the order issued by Excise Commissioner A Gopi Krishna, a copy of which ThePrint has seen.
It further said that such discounting is also leading to “unhealthy market practices deployed purely for short-term market gains by some of the licensees”, as well as “distortion of the market”.
The order stated that the intent of the government with regard to discounting was “to promote consumer choice and healthy competition and determination of price by market forces”.
“All licensees shall never give concession, discount or rebate on the MRP of liquor,” it further said.
ThePrint sought a comment from AAP spokespersons on whether the order had anything to do with the BJP’s allegations, via calls and messages, but did not get a response.
Under the new excise policy of the Delhi government, the entire retail sector is operated by private players. The policy is aimed at augmenting the government’s excise revenue, improving consumer experience, and fighting malpractices such as brand pushing and evasion of duties.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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