Manish Sisodia was arrested by the CBI following eight hours of questioning on Sunday, and soon after his arrest, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trained its guns at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, terming him the “real kingpin” of the excise scam and adding that “he is next.” For two consecutive tenures, Arvind’s Aam Aadmi Party gave a tough time to the BJP in Capita. Recently, AAP’s candidate made it to the mayor’s chair in Delhi. In spite of several planned attacks, Arvind is still the preferred candidate of Delhi voters. If the BJP fails to destabilize the AAP, they will never be able to form a government in the capital.
Manish Sisodia gave full cooperation to the investigating agencies; he was made to confront them with evidence. But CBI officers gave different statements to the media, and all lap media channels turned no stone unturned to malign the Aam Aadmi Party and its leaders. Meanwhile, they must have thought that the absence of two of its most senior ministers—Sisodia and Satyendar Jain—is likely to hit the functioning of the AAP and the Delhi government severely, especially with the budget session expected to be held in a few days. With 18 departments in his portfolio, Sisodia is Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s most trusted aide in the government as well as the party.
Ahead of appearing before the CBI, Sisodia said: “I want to tell Kejriwal ji, aap chaalu rakhiye.. logon ke liye aise hi ladte rahiye.. Modi ji, who is not even scared of Rahul Gandhi, is scared of only one party—that is AAP! They will put me in jail…. but we are not afraid, we will fight. Kejriwal is the only future of this country.”
Sisodia was questioned regarding various aspects of the excise policy, his alleged link with Dinesh Arora and other accused mentioned in the FIR, and details of message exchanges from multiple phones, among others. Why? The CBI investigators were not satisfied with Sisodia’s responses. It was claimed that he was not cooperating in the investigation and avoiding clarifications sought by officials on crucial points, leading to his arrest.
The CBI named 15 individuals in its FIR filed in connection with the Delhi excise policy 2021–2022, with Sisodia topping the list. In quoting allegations in a memorandum issued by the office of the LG, the FIR said that Sisodia, then Delhi Excise Commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, and two other senior excise department officials were “instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021–22 without the approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post-tender.”
It accused Vijay Nair, a former CEO of entertainment and event management company Only Much Louder; Manoj Rai, a former employee of wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, the owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirit, of being “actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy.”
The FIR states that “some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with the intent to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants… showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight.” In August 2022, the CBI raided the residence of Sisodia in connection with the case.
If we see the numbers, in what other assemblies or even previous Delhi assemblies were sitting MLAs charged by police? And compare that with the fate of AAP MLAs. You will find that this witch-hunting is unprecedented; no other state’s sitting MLAs were targeted and hounded by police, the ACB, the CBI, and what have you.
So yes, this is politically motivated, and it must be exasperating for many of the idealists among AAP supporters and politicians to deal with such atrocious abuse of power and the apathy of people on top of it, who somehow have been led to believe that these people deserve such treatment.
Central agencies are working suspiciously under the present ruling party. Cases of opposition politicians being dragged for political vendettas, whether Satyendra Jain, Sanjay Raut, Siddhu, or the National Herald, date back years. But when the Rafale deal investigation started, the CBI director was arrested and changed overnight. And the leader lord received a clean chit in a flash, implying that the central agencies are acting like “parrots in a cage.”
Today that government, courts, and central agencies are under the control of the BJP, so there is no point of conviction for BJP leaders. Central agencies have not taken any action against BJP leaders such as Yediurappa, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, or ABG Shipyard. I’m not aware of any summons or custodial demands made by BJP politicians. There is a long list of politicians who join the BJP to get clean chits, like Narayan Rane, Mukul Roy, Hemanta Biswa Sharma, and so on. In any case, when the party’s leadership changes, the cases against BJP leaders will be revisited.
There are hundreds of cases of central agencies filing against politicians (except BJP leaders), and the conviction ratio is negligible. Cases are being dragged out for years and years against politicians who are public figures. Their image is everything; they survive and make a career out of politics, and if nothing material is found, even after a clean slate, their public image isn’t maligned. So, my point is, is whatever the central agencies report as evidence material gospel, or should politicians also hit back for defamation of their public image?