As soon as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was announced, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trained its guns at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, terming him the “real kingpin” of the excise scam, and party leaders were confident that “he was next.”
A digital device seized from the Delhi excise department led the CBI to unearth the alleged role of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the liquor policy case, sources from the agency have said. Sisodia was arrested by the CBI last night following an eight-hour questioning session. He is to be presented in court this afternoon.
The senior AAP leader faces corruption allegations for bringing a now-scrapped liquor sale policy to the national capital. The party has denied the charges, alleging political vendetta by the BJP-led central government.
According to sources in the central agency, a digital device was seized during a search at the excise department on August 19. While examining it, the agency traced one of the excise policy draft documents to a system that wasn’t part of the excise department network, the sources said.
When they questioned an excise department official in this connection, they got a lead to the computer in Sisodia’s office, the sources said, adding that they seized the system from the Deputy Chief Minister’s office on January 14.
The sources said that most of the files on the system had been deleted, but they managed to retrieve the records with the help of the CBI’s forensic team. The forensic examination, they said, revealed that the document under the scanner had “originated externally” and was received via WhatsApp.
CM Arvind Kejriwal said, “Manish is honest and a patriot. The whole country saw how he started giving good education to the children of the poor.” Those who looted billions are their friends. No action was taken against them. “People are watching, and only people will respond,” he said.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, met with Manish Sisodia’s wife at their home and assured her of his full support.
Maharashtra NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said it was ironic that Sisodia was arrested just a day after CM Arvind Kejriwal came down to Mumbai to meet Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray. “Isn’t it ironic that just a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Uddhav Thackeray and extended support to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in its fight to protect the Constitution, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested?” he asked.
The CBI then summoned and questioned a DANICS (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Civil) bureaucrat from the 1996 batch who had served as Mr Sisodia’s secretary.
His statement was recorded before a magistrate in the first week of February. The officer, the sources said, told investigators that Sisodia called him to the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in March 2021 and gave him a copy of the Group of Ministers’ draft report on the excise policy. According to the official, Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain, who is currently in jail following his arrest in a money laundering case, was also present at the meeting, according to CBI sources.
It was from this draft copy of the GoM report that the “12% profit margin clause” originated, the sources said. According to CBI sources, there are no records of any discussion or file relating to how the 12% profit margin clause was determined. During his questioning, Sisodia was asked about this draft document, but he refused to share details, the CBI sources said.
In a statement issued after Sisodia’s arrest yesterday, the central agency said “he gave evasive replies and did not cooperate (in) the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary.” “Therefore, he has been arrested,” the agency said.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “The BJP has not only arrested Deputy CM Manish Sisodia but about 80 senior party leaders and councillors too.” They have been kept in a police station. They said it was detention, but detention lasts a maximum of one or two hours. Our leaders have been in jail since last night. They have kept them illegally. We want to know under which sections you have arrested them. “And if you are keeping them for so long in the police station, why haven’t you produced them in court?”
He also claimed that Gopal Rai, Adil Khan, and several other leaders were still in jail. “All our senior leaders and district in-charges have been arrested.” This clearly shows that the Center is giving a message of an announced “emergency,” like the Congress, and has put all the senior party leaders behind bars. “We want answers from the central government,” he added.
Meanwhile, DCP (South) Chandan Chowdhary said none of the leaders or protesters have been arrested. “They are being released,” she added.
The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for deploying a large number of security forces outside its office and asked what the BJP was afraid of. In a tweet in Hindi, the party said: “After arresting Manish Sisodia ji yesterday in a fake case, PM Modi has again deployed a large number of security forces outside AAP’s office today.” What is the BJP afraid of? Your end at the hands of AAP? (sic)”
“Why are you afraid if you haven’t done anything?” Union Minister Anurag Thakur, reacting to the arrest of Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, said, “I believe that some people, instead of cooperating in the investigation, make too much of a clamor in the media.” What fear has gripped you? Why are you afraid if you haven’t done anything? “But if you have done something, then there is no point in saying anything in your defense.”