The CBI arrived at Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s home this morning over allegations linked to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s liquor policy, withdrawn last month after a bitter row with the Centre. AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had predicted that the Centre would target his deputy, said “nothing had come out” in many previous raids and nothing would.
Arvind Kejriwal said the CBI raids are the result of the good performance of his ministers, appreciated globally.
“Welcome to CBI. Will cooperate fully. There have been many tests/raids in the past as well. Nothing came out. still nothing will come out,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted, pointing out that the raids were launched the same day the New York Times front-paged Manish Sisodia over his education model in Delhi.
This is the latest in a series of raids and arrests targeting opposition parties.
AAP leader Raghav Chaddha said the BJP’s chief target is Arvind Kejriwal simply because he had emerged as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The only agenda of the BJP is to finish Kejriwal,” he added.
The CBI searches against AAP’s number two leader come just two days after Mr Kejriwal announced his plan to go national with a “Make India No. 1” mission, a move that positions him as the main challenger to the BJP and PM Modi in the 2024 general election.
“Arvind Kejriwal’s rise has given the PM sleepless nights,” said AAP leader Sanjay Singh.
Another AAP minister, Satyendar Jain, has been in jail since his arrest in May, weeks after the party won the Punjab election, surprising parties like the Congress and the BJP.
Delhi liquor policy
Today’s raids involve the new Delhi liquor policy that was scrapped on July 30 after nine months.
The Centre alleges that the AAP government violated rules while implementing the policy that handed over the sale of liquor to private players, shutting down government-run outlets.
Mr Sisodia said the policy was meant to tackle corruption and fight the powerful liquor mafia.
AAP alleges that the BJP’s attacks escalated after its stunning victory in the Punjab election earlier this year, which illustrated Mr Kejriwal’s “rising stature” in the country.
“Earlier they used to say Modi vs who. After we won Punjab, the same people are saying, Modi vs Kejriwal,” Mr Chaddha said.
“Mr Kerjiwal and AAP are emerging as national alternatives. The fastest growing party in independent India is AAP and its leader is Kejriwal. The BJP and PM Modi are panicking.”
The BJP and AAP recently sparred over PM Modi’s taunt on political parties promising freebies to win votes, what he described as “Revdi (sweets) culture”.
Mr Kejriwal hit back saying schemes to benefit those who need help cannot be termed as freebies.
The most recent flashpoint before the CBI raid centred on Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Union Minister Hardeep Puri’s tweets announcing homes for them in the capital.
The Delhi government accused the Centre of “secretly” trying to give permanent homes to the Rohingya in the capital. On the other hand, the Union Home Ministry accused the AAP administration of dragging its feet on declaring the locality where they live a “detention centre”.
The Delhi government “will not allow” the conspiracy to illegally settle Rohingyas in Delhi,” Mr Sisodiya had declared.