Delhi liquor scam: An old TV commercial from the 1990s had a very famous motto that we still remember: “khoob jamega rang… jab mil baithe teen yaar.” The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is currently mocking the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by saying that the three friends—Kejriwal, KCR, and Bhagwant Maan—will create a colourful mess if they ever get together.
The ‘liquor friendship’
Recently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has been investigating the Delhi liquor scam, alleged that K. Kavitha, a Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, was one of the main beneficiaries of the scam. The other two who benefited from the deal are Aurobindo Sharat Chandra Reddy and YSR Congress MP Magunta Srinivasula Reddy.
During the investigation, ED recorded the statements of numerous individuals involved in the Delhi liquor scam. In its charge sheet, the ED alleged that a “South Group” paid kickbacks of Rs 100 crore to the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP. Reportedly, the money paid was to gain control over the liquor business in the national capital. The central agency said that Kavitha acquired the stake in the company through proxies, who have been identified and questioned.
In his statement to the Enforcement Directorate, Arun Pillai, who is alleged to be a benami of Kavitha in Indospirit, revealed that Kavitha and Vijay Nair had met in ‘The Oberoi Maidens’ and discussed recovering kickbacks paid to AAP. He also stated that he had been representing Kavitha in Indospirit. This was corroborated by another partner in Indospirit, Sameer Mahendru, in his statement.
The ED has alleged Vijay Nair, who represents the AAP, of coercing Pernod Ricard, one of the largest liquor manufacturers in the country, to make Indospirit their wholesaler for Delhi. According to the deal, 12 percent profit from sales would be split evenly between the South Group and AAP.
The South Group was allegedly favoured in the distribution of liquor licences in Delhi in exchange for kickbacks, resulting in the group making substantial profits. According to the ED, Kavitha holds 65 percent along with the Magunta family through her proxy, Arun Pillai, in Indospirit, which made at least Rs 195 crore as profit by selling 14 crore bottles at retail. This is in contrast to just Rs 21,000 in profit made by another wholesaler, Lake Forest, which also paid a licence fee of Rs 5 crore.
Many times, on public platforms, AAP and BRS have been taking pot-shots at each other as both want to outdo others in their national ambitions. But these ED revelations, the veracity of which will be decided only by the court of law, seems to indicate that behind closed doors things are happening contrary to public perception. The Delhi liquor scam has revealed the unlikely friendship between these ‘rival’ political parties and paints the picture of financially profitable motive to be their main political agenda.
Further, the ED added that a total loss of Rs 2,873 crore has allegedly been caused to the Delhi exchequer as a result of the cartelization and monopoly achieved in furtherance of the aforementioned criminal conspiracy, while accused Mahendru and his enterprises derived profits from crime totaling about Rs 295.45 crore.
The Delhi Excise Policy 2021–22, according to the ED’s chargesheet, was created so that the Aam Aadmi Party could raise money “illegally.” It claims that the policy was full of loopholes that were deliberately put there in order to allow illegal activities to take place, showing the intention of the policymakers.
In order to do “Badlav ki Rajneeti” (alter politics), the party that won the election is now carrying out the actions for which the Congress is renowned. We all know that KCR and Kejriwal want their parties to be seen as national rather than regional parties, but they don’t necessarily have to emulate Congress.
Recently, it has been widely reported that Delhi’s government has come under fire numerous times for financial mismanagement. In order to solve the issue in front of him, Kejriwal must pull up his socks and stop blaming the centre and the government agencies.
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