AAP accuses govt of shelving core issue of huge excise revenue losses worth crores
Chandigarh: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab senior leader and Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema and Deputy Leader of Opposition (Dy LoP) Bibi Sarabjit Kaur Manuke have levelled serious allegations against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his entire ministerial team for being in cahoots with the liquor mafia in the state.
In a joint statement issued from party headquarters on Thursday, Harpal Singh Cheema and Sarabjit Kaur Manuke, targeting Finance Minister (FM) Manpreet Singh Badal, questioned him as to how the simmering dispute over the huge excise revenues losses lingering on for over two weeks now was resolved, at the drop of a hat, simply by offering apologies by Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh to the entire cabinet? The people of Punjab wanted to know from Finance Minister how such a stand-off over the excise revenue losses worth crores came to an abrupt end and how had the exercise helped replenish the Punjab exchequer?
The AAP leaders alleged that the unearthing of illegal distilleries in Khanna and Ghanour, the colossal losses of excise revenue as also the new excise policy, had made it abundantly clear that all the rabble rousing was over the share of ‘booty’ from the liquor mafia active in the state and not for the people or the depleting state exchequer.
The AAP leaders alleged that, like the previous Badal government, the liquor mafia was still operating under the protective patronage of the Chief Minister. They alleged that the ministers had settled the deal for their share in the ‘booty’ through apologies tendered by the Chief Secretary. The AAP leaders said the Congress ministers, MLAs and advisers, including Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, would now have to come to the peoples’ court and answer with facts and figures as to how much had been added to the state exchequer through sale of alcohol and what was the target, spilling the beans whether the losses in excise amounted to Rs 600 crore or Rs 5,600 crore?
Citing the example of the Kejriwal and Tamil Nadu governments, Harpal Singh Cheema said that unless the state Liquor Corporation was set up in the state, the excise revenue losses would continue to multiply and so would the liquor mafia calling the shots in the state. He added that liquor consumption in Punjab was much higher when compared its consumption in Tamil Nadu, saying that through the Liquor Corporation, the government there earned about Rs 30,000 crore, besides providing thousands of jobs to people, while Punjab was way short of meeting Rs 6,200 crore target.
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