New Delhi: “It is a black day for democracy,” the AAP said Sunday while claiming that Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was innocent and has been arrested due to vendetta politics, a charge rejected by the BJP which said the law was taking its course.
The BJP alleged that AAP leaders had failed to explain several questionable actions in the Delhi excise policy matter, and said that agencies do not work on emotion but look into technicalities.
While the Delhi Congress demanded that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should also be arrested and calling him the “mastermind”, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) took a swipe at the BJP, saying only agencies like the CBI and the ED remain its “true allies”.
“Manish is innocent. His arrest is dirty politics. His arrest has angered people quite a lot. People are watching everything. People now understand everything and will give reply to this. It will boost our spirit and our struggle will only get stronger,” Chief Minister Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh said Sisodia’s arrest is the “height of dictatorship”. “You have arrested a good person and best education minister which is not the right thing, Modi ji. God will not forgive you. One day, your dictatorship will definitely end, Modi ji,” Singh said in a tweet in Hindi.
The CBI on Sunday arrested Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the now-scrapped excise policy relating to the sale of alcohol, in a move that could plunge the national capital into a governance crisis and further widen the political rift between the AAP and the BJP-led Central government. Sisodia was arrested after nearly eight hours of questioning as his answers were not satisfactory, officials said.
Delhi Congress chief Anil Choudhary termed Sisodia’s arrest a welcome step and alleged AAP “used power to accumulate wealth”.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson and MLA Atishi said Sisodia was arrested because of the growing popularity of the party and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. She said Sisodia is that education minister who turned around government schools and educated 20 lakh poor children of Delhi.
“It is a black day for democracy. The BJP’s CBI has arrested the world’s best education minister Manish Sisodia who has shaped the future of several children in a false case. BJP has carried out this arrest due to political vendetta,” the Aam Aadmi Party said in Hindi on its Twitter handle.
Punjab Chief Minister and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann said, “We are not afraid of the misuse of CBI and ED by the Union government and will continue to serve the people without any fear.”
But BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra targeted Sisodia, saying he must be the only education minister in the world who is involved in a liquor scam, and added the entire episode is an eye-opener and shocking.
“Law is taking its course and that is why Sisodia has been arrested. There is nothing surprising in this. A liquor scam was done in Delhi and from the arrests made so far, it was believed that Manish Sisodia would also be arrested eventually,” Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said in a statement.
The war of words between the two parties started early in the day as Sisodia, accompanied by supporters, arrived for questioning by CBI after paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Raj Ghat and expressed apprehension that he may be arrested.
“Today, I am going to the CBI. Will fully cooperate in the probe. I have the love of lakhs of children and crores of countrymen with me. Even if I have to go to jail for a few months, I do not care. We are followers of Bhagat Singh. He died for the country. If I have to go to jail over such false allegations, it is a small thing,” Sisodia said.
BJP spokesperson Patra termed Sisodia a “liquor minister” and accused him of several irregularities including a hike in commission for wholesalers to make money for his party through the backdoor.
“We had asked AAP and its leaders why Manish Sisodia allowed cartelisation in the excise policy. Besides, we asked some more pointed questions. However, we received no answer from them. They keep beating around the bush. “AAP leaders cannot hide their corruption through event management,” the BJP leader said.
Probe agencies, he said, do not work on emotion but look into technicalities and the AAP never answered technical questions about the excise policy its government had brought in the national capital. Patra said Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case, has been rejected bail as there is merit in the case against him despite the AAP’s claim of his innocence.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress mocked the BJP over the arrest of Sisodia. “If Manish Sisodia had got himself a BJP brand of washing machine, he would never be arrested. Bravo, Manish. Allies, Shiv Sena, SAD, JD(U), TDP and many others have all abandoned BJP. Only CBI, ED, and I-T remain true allies.
“Targeting Opposition leaders is the DESPERATE DUO’S favourite job,” said TMC Rajya Sabha MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien in a tweet.
The Arvind Kejriwal government is staring at a possible crisis with the CBI arresting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who holds as many as 18 of the total 33 departments, including education, finance and home.
The arrest of Sisodia comes after that of Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s the then health minister, in June last year. Both have led what the Aam Aadmi Party describes as the successful transformation of Delhi’s education and health services, contributing to the party’s popularity and continued electoral success.
Their absence leaves Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with no heavyweight lieutenant to implement his governance agenda in Delhi.
The immediate challenge for Kejriwal is to present the Delhi government budget as scheduled and find Sisodia’s replacement.