Delhi commuters were in for a nasty surprise on the first working day of 2022 as BJP workers blocked traffic to protest the manner in which liquor retail has been privatised in the capital
On 3 January, just when Delhi was coming back to its normal working mode on the first Monday of the new year, Delhi Pradesh BJP blocked traffic in some parts of the national capital. The Delhi unit of the party was protesting against the new excise policy implemented by Delhi’s AAP government.
A ‘Chakka Jam’ protest was organised at various sites in Delhi. Because of the protest many routes around the city witnessed long traffic jams. Around 3-4 km long traffic pileups were seen on the major routes which connect Delhi with other parts of the National Capital Region.
Roads at ITO, Akshardham, Laxmi Nagar, Signature Bridge and Karol Bagh areas were the most affected because of the ‘Chakka Jam’. According to a video circulated on social media by Delhi Transport Corporation Karamchari Ekta Union, front tyres of the buses were allegedly deflated across the capital by BJP cadre to make the protest more effective. This affected traffic for hours.
The protest near the Akshardham temple was led by Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta. Addressing reporters, Gupta said, “The Delhi government is opening liquor shops illegally across the city under its new excise policy. Shops are being opened near residential and religious places. Our protest will continue until the new liquor policy is rolled back.”
While talking with Patriot, Senior BJP leader and Vice President of Delhi BJP Rajeev Babbar said “Fifteen spots were chosen in the capital where we have jammed the traffic, we are doing this against Delhi government’s new liquor Policy. The Delhi government is not listening to us, that’s why we have come to the roads. Arvind Kejriwal is opening liquor stores in residential areas and people are not happy with this move. He has sold every liquor store in the capital to the big vendors”.
When Patriot asked him about their plans if the government will not take action against their grievances, he said, “We don’t want to harass people but if Delhi government does not listen to us, we will take this agitation ahead”.
“We will not stop our fight against this double standard government, ” he added.
A commuter, who was stuck on National Highway 24, said, “There is a heavy traffic jam on NH-24. Most of the roads are blocked by the protesters and it is causing inconvenience to people like us who need to reach office on time.”
The protesters were sloganeering against the AAP government and its new excise policy. Repeated announcements were also made that all emergency vehicles should be given way and no harm should be caused to public property.
On the other hand, the Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister of Delhi tweeted against this protest and targeted BJP. He tweeted, “BJP people in Delhi are upset with the new excise policy because Arvind Kejriwal has stopped the theft of Rs 3,500 crore in Delhi. This money is now being received by the government for the work of the people, earlier this money used to go to the pockets of BJP leaders and the liquor mafia.”
While talking with Patriot, a senior AAP leader said, “In the new policy, Delhi government has allotted 850 liquor shops around the capital; before this policy, distribution of liquor was uneven: some areas were having 10 shops and some areas were having none. We are projecting Rs 10,000 crore rupees revenue in the future.”
When asked why BJP is protesting against this move, he said, “Before implementation of this policy, most liquor shops were owned by BJP leaders or their associates but, now who has bid more got the contract.”
On 17 November, Delhi government exited from the liquor business and around 600 vends run by it were given to private players. Under this new policy, the city is divided into 32 zones. Each zone, comprising 8-10 wards, has around 27 vends. New policy has also paved the way for swanky liquor shops where customers can even walk in and pick the brands of their choice.
(With inputs from PTI)