Saturday, December 2, 2023

Manish Sisodia arrested by CBI; Kejriwal cries foul

Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with alleged corruption in the now-withdrawn liquor policy of Delhi. He will be produced in court tomorrow morning.

  • Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s finance, excise and education minister, was being questioned by the Central agency since morning and the expected arrest came after over nine hours. He is the second Delhi minister to be arrested since Satyendar Jain.
  • While Sisodia’s arrest was anticipated by his and his party, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi, it is not known whether a protest will be held tonight. In the morning, a protest by the Aam Aadmi Party was broken up and several leaders and workers were detained.
  • The police have made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order, turning Delhi into a virtual fortress with multiple blockades and check-points. Police teams have been deployed outside Sisodia’s house and the CBI office.
  • “The BJP has been saying Manish Sisodia is corrupt. But you didn’t get anything from his house or bank accounts. They haven’t been able to prove any allegation against him. His arrest is a matter of attacking AAP and Kejriwal’s popularity,” said Aam Aadmi Party’s Aatishi at a press conference. The party has also questioned the absence of a money trail.
  • “Manish is innocent. His arrest is dirty politics. There is a lot of anger among the people due to the arrest of Manish. Everyone is watching. People are understanding everything. People will respond to this. This will boost our spirits further. Our struggle will get stronger,” tweeted Sisodia’s boss and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
  • Sisodia and others face corruption allegations in bringing a new liquor sale policy in the national capital. The CBI contends that liquor companies were involved in framing of the 2021 policy, for which kickbacks to the tune of ₹ 100 crore were paid by a liquor lobby it dubbed the “South Group”.
  • The policy would have led to a 12 per cent profit for them, of which 6 per cent was routed to public servants through middlemen, the agency claimed. The Enforcement Directorate has also launched an investigation, alleging laundering of the kickbacks. After the policy was scrapped, the BJP said the Delhi government went back to the old liquor sale policy to cover up the corruption.
  • Sisodia was asked to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation last Sunday for questioning, but he sought more time, citing the pending Delhi budget. Earlier, he had faced a nine-hour questioning session by the Enforcement Directorate officials, after which he claimed the officials had asked him to quit AAP.
  • Sources said Sisodia was not cooperating with the investigation. He failed to explain some contentious provisions in the liquor policy that were not part of the first draft. The agency, sources said, has the statement of an excise department officer who revealed the role of Sisodia in tweaking the drafts.

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