Sidhu misleading people on Pb’s liquor trade: Harsimrat Badal

Chandigarh, Jan 23 (PTI) Hitting-out at Navjot Singh Sidhu for accusing SAD of having “looted” Punjab in excise collection, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today said he was “confusing facts with fiction” and trying to “mislead” people before the February 4 state Assembly polls.

Sidhu has grossly confused sale proceeds of liquor in Tamil Nadu with excise receipts of Punjab, and now smells a huge liquor scam in the state, the Akali leader alleged here.

The confusion is not inadvertent, but “utterly malicious” to score brownie points at hustings, she said.

Sidhu, who recently joined Congress, had claimed that against Tamil Nadu’s Rs 26,188 crore excise collection, Punjab’s annual revenue from 12,500 liquor vends was Rs 5,610 crore. He had also opined that Punjab had the highest per capita consumption of liquor.

Pointing out that liquor trade in Tamil Nadu is monopolised under the state’s Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TAMSAC), Harsimrat said Sidhu had “cunningly” compared Punjab’s excise proceedings to the total sale of Rs 26,188 crore in the southern Indian state.

The excise proceeds of Tamil Nadu has been pegged at Rs 6,630 crore for the 2016-17 fiscal by its finance minister in his budget speech, the Union Minister claimed.

Even though Tamil Nadu’s population is 2.5 times more than Punjab, the state has a higher per capita earning than the former, she claimed.

“Sidhu’s absurdity flows from the fact that he tried to compare free trade with monopoly. TAMSAC has privilege of controlling wholesale and retail trade of a commodity where price rise hardly affect sale in volumes.

“And the Tamil Nadu government has been often accused of monopoly and unabashed profiteering, large scale arbitration and favoritism as it earns profit of 600 per cent to 800 per cent over the acquisition cost of the commodity,” she said.

“Sidhu must understand that oddities cannot be compared. It is not his laughter show where people laugh away at his antics and idiosyncrasies,” the Union Food Processing Minister said.

Taking a dig at Sidhu for stating “Punjab has highest per capita consumption of liquor”, she said Sidhu was wide-off the mark when he made the comment.

“It may be matter of a little shock and shame for ilks of Sidhu, who associate their town with large pegs, to know that Punjabis are far behind in drinking. Even behind their close neighbour Himachal Pradesh when it comes to per capita consumption,” she said.

Quoting NSSO-2011 data, Harsimrat claimed, “Consumption of beer, wine and refined foreign liquor is highest in Daman and Diu, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala. Punjab is no where close.”