Reacting to CBI raids on his deputy Manish Sisodia over Delhi’s now-withdrawn policy on liquor sale, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the action is “welcome” and “we will cooperate fully”, but added that “nothing will come out”. The raids at 21 locations in seven states or UTs, including Mr Sisodia’s official residence in the national capital, are to probe alleged corruption in the New Excise Policy of the Delhi government.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, in his tweet, sought to underline Mr Sisodia’s work to improve schools, mentioning that the CBI raids come on “a day when the Delhi education model was praised and Manish Sisodia’s picture printed on the front page of America’s largest newspaper NYT (New York Times)”.
“There have been many investigations and raids in the past as well. Nothing came out. This time, too, nothing will come out,” he wrote, in Hindi, sharing a tweet by Manish Sisodia in which he said AAP leaders are “kattar imaandar” (staunchly honest).
The liquor policy at the nub of the case had brought in private players — it came into effect in May — but was withdrawn at the end of July after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena found “procedural irregularities”, official-speak for “corruption”. He recommended the probe by the central agency.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been alleging that the BJP at the Centre is targeting its leaders — another minister, Satyender Jain, is in jail in a different case — because it is perturbed by the “Delhi model of development”. It has been at odds with successive Lt Governors, appointed by the Centre.
Mr Sisodia — who holds the Revenue and Education portfolios, among several others — made a veiled reference to the Narendra Modi government in a tweet: “These people are troubled because of the excellent work done by the Delhi government in the health and education sectors, and that is why ministers of both departments are targeted.
The Health portfolio was with Satyender Jain but was allotted to Mr Sisodia after his arrest in May.
“It is very unfortunate that those who do good work in our country are harassed like this. That is why our country has not yet become Number 1,” Mr Sisodia tweeted.
“Making India Number 1” is AAP’s latest pitch for a national profile, launched by Mr Kejriwal earlier this week.
Earlier this morning, Mr Sisodia shared the NYT front page that the chief minister was referring to.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who leads the party’s other state government, also made the point about the NYT article in a tweet. “Manish Sisodia is the best Education Minister in India since Independence,” he wrote, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has sent the CBI”.
Before the CBI probe, the Delhi Police, which too reports to the central government, was already investigating the policy.
The three main allegations are that the new policy caused a huge loss of public money, ineligible players were awarded retail outlets; and the AAP benefited through “commissions”. Upon its reversal by Mr Sisodia, from August 1 Delhi is back to having just government-run liquor shops.
Countering allegations of politics being the reason for the action, Union Minister Anurag Thakur told news agency ANI, “Arvind Kejriwal should stop treating people as fools, and should stop with his ‘Addressing To The Nation’ speeches. He did not even sack Satyendar Jain when he went to jail.”
Action against Mr Sisodia comes just over two months after minister Satyender Jain was arrested by another central probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate, in a case of alleged money laundering case. He is in judicial custody.