Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today doubled down on the dare to arrest his deputy, Manish Sisodia, in the alleged liquor policy scam. “What’s the scam? The CBI has found nothing in raids on Manish. Why don’t they arrest him if there’s a scam? Just because the BJP says there’s corruption, does not mean there is,” the AAP chief said, speaking at the NDTV Townhall in Ahmedabad.
His comments echo what Manish Sisodia said yesterday after the BJP showed a “sting operation” in which a man is saying the AAP favoured big traders in its Excise Policy that brought private players into the national capital’s liquor trade. The policy remained in force for eight months before being withdrawn in July as the Delhi Lieutenant Governor ordered a CBI probe.
The AAP has said it’s “political vendetta”. It accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP-led central government — which appoints the Lieutenant Governor — of misusing the CBI.
Mr Kejriwal said Manish Sisodia is “being attacked” because the BJP is “rattled by his amazing work as Education Minister”. He added that, after success in Delhi in Punjab, the AAP’s foray into Gujarat, where elections are due later this year, is “why BJP is making so many scam allegations“.
“The people are watching who is doing what,” he said, “I have seen Manish Sisodia, for the last seven years (of AAP government in Delhi), get up every single morning and visit government schools, and he has transformed the entire infrastructure. Tell me, which corrupt person visits schools and does this for children?” Mr Kejriwal said.
The BJP says there have been “grave irregularities” in the liquor contracts. “Money from kickbacks was used in the AAP campaigns in Goa and Punjab,” BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said yesterday. The CBI has named 15 people in its FIR, including Mr Sisodia, who handles Delhi’s Revenue Department that governs excise collection and liquor policy.
“A corrupt person will stay up late, have a drink, relax till late night, then wake up late,” Mr Kejriwal said today, “But Manish ji wakes up at 6 am and visits schools. We just don’t want to get into tu-tu, main-main (blame game) with these people.”