Following CAG ad spend rap, AAP MLA red flags govt's breach of privilege over liquor licensing

After the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pulled-up the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government for its excessive spending on advertisements outside Delhi, an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA has now raised a red flag against his own government over a liquor issue.

On the floor of Delhi Assembly on Wednesday, the AAP MLA from Timarpur, Pankaj Pushkar, served a notice to the Delhi government over a breach of privilege — for allegedly resorting to lies.

Following CAG ad spend rap, AAP MLA red flags govts breach of privilege over liquor licensing

Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar addressing residents in a locality in Delhi on liquor vends that were opened illegally. Photo: Firstpost/Debobrat Ghose

Pushkar, while confirming that he had issued the notice, added that the government had resorted to lies to hide its incompetency and failure to abide by the rules of law.

“Yes, I gave them a notice on Wednesday, because a senior minister, who’s representing the Delhi government, resorted to lies to hide its incompetency and failure to abide by the rules of law,” the Timarpur MLA told Firstpost.

It all started on the third day of the four-day Delhi Assembly session on Wednesday, during the Question Hour, when Pushkar asked two starred questions regarding the issuing of new liquor licenses:

If any new vends/licenses were granted during this period (any particular period) and whether there was any consultation with the public in the locality before granting of these licenses?

Is it mandatory to have the permission of local MLAs before granting new liquor licenses in the area?

What the Delhi government said

As per current rules there is no requirement of consultation with the public.

There is no such policy.

What the Delhi government’s Excise Policy says?

As per Sec 24 (1), when it’s proposed to grant a license for retail vend of liquor for consumption “on” the premises of any premises which were not licensed in the preceding year, the deputy commissioner should take all reasonable steps to ascertain the opinion of persons who reside or have property in the neighbourhood and likely to get affected by the proposal.

'The area MLA should have given his positive opinion in respect of vend premises, as regards opening of the vend'.

The legislator has been on a campaign along with AAP’s splinter group, Swaraj Abhiyan, against the opening of liquor vends by Delhi government in residential areas. Yogendra Yadav-Prashant Bhushan led Swaraj Abhiyan has been attacking the AAP government over its “anti-people” liquor policy and has demanded immediate closure of 11 liquor vends in the national capital, which were opened without public approval. The issue that was raised in public has now snowballed into a fierce debate inside the Assembly.

In various public platforms, Pushkar and Swaraj Abhiyan have jointly raised the issue of the opening of 142 new liquor shops by Delhi government without the consent of local residents, which is mandatory. The movement has garnered huge local support.

“It’s a worrying signal for the citizens that the government has been spreading lies by distorting cats on the floor of the House on such a serious issue. Such an act is a breach of privilege granted to any member of the House. And, MLA Pankaj Pushkar did the right thing by issuing the notice,” said Anupam Singh, national working committee member, Swaraj Abhiyan.

This is not the first time that Pushkar has raised his voice against the party’s functioning; even in the past, the legislator has never shied away from questioning the AAP leadership and the government.

Exactly a year ago — much before the CAG questioned the Delhi government on its Ad spending — it was Pushkar, a lone rebel legislator among 67 AAP MLAs, who had strongly criticised the government for its excessive publicity budget — of Rs 526 crore.

“The AAP movement was more like a cooperative society, with participation of all the members. But now, the party has become a ‘private limited company’,” Pushkar had said back in 2015.

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Updated Date: Aug 25, 2016 15:45:26 IST

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