CBI denies; BJP says Kejriwal is ‘nervous’
Facing the heat in the excise policy “corruption” case, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday claimed the CBI issued a Look Out Circular against him, but agency officials denied it and said the LOCs were only against eight ‘’private’’ persons named in the FIR.
The Aam Aadmi Party mocked the Centre, accusing it of playing the “CBI-ED game’’ every morning instead of focusing on problems of inflation and unemployment, while the BJP claimed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is getting nervous as the roots of the scam are leading to his doorstep.
The Congress demanded the resignation of Sisodia, saying the issue at hand was the liquor policy and AAP should stop “hiding behind” the education policy debate.
Claiming the CBI found “nothing” during the raid at his residence on Friday, Sisodia said the agency was doing a drama by issuing a Look Out Circular (LOC) against him when he is “roaming freely” in Delhi and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he is unable to find him.
Sisodia is among 15 people and entities named in an FIR registered by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi excise policy.
CBI officials, however, said no LoCs have been issued against four public servants named in the FIR, including Sisodia and three former excise department officials.
The CBI issued Look Out Circulars against eight private persons named in the FIR, they said, adding the agency had not felt the need for LOCs against public servants so far because they cannot leave the country without intimating the government.
In an interview to PTI, Sisodia said the Centre is trying to stop chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has emerged as a national alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by sending the CBI after his cabinet colleagues. The AAP leader said that they are not scared of any investigation and asserted that the scams being alleged by BJP leaders are nothing but ‘’shagufe’’ (lies).
The BJP and AAP have been attacking each other with a flurry of press conferences and tweets after the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday raided 31 locations including Sisodia’s residence in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi government’s Excise Policy 2021-22.
Addressing a press conference, the Aam Aadmi Party’s chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj hit out at the Modi government over the alleged LOC.
“The Narendra Modi government started the day by issuing a Look Out circular against Manish Sisodia and sharing the news with all the newspapers and television channels. It is a very serious matter,” he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also slammed the Centre, saying it is “fighting with the entire country” instead of working with state governments to address issues of unemployment and inflation. Kejriwal said every morning, the Centre starts “the game of CBI-ED”.
The AAP had on Saturday claimed that the CBI raids were being carried out as the BJP feared Kejriwal and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls will be a battle between the AAP chief and Modi.
“No one is afraid of you Arvind Kejriwal ji. As the nodes of corruption are unravelling, the handcuffs are coming closer. Everyone knows how nervous you are,” BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said on Sunday, alleging Kejriwal was busy indulging in corruption when COVID-affected people needed his help.
“Roots of the excise policy ‘scam’ lead to the doorstep of corrupt Kejriwal. No one is above law, including Kejriwal, and no corrupt person will be spared,” he said at a press conference.
BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh, meanwhile, dragged Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao into the ongoing row over the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, claiming his family members attended meetings on its formulation at a five-star hotel here.
“Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao’s family members attended meetings on the formulation of the Delhi excise policy at Oberoi Hotel. KCR’s family members got same the policy implemented in Punjab. They prepared a plan for Delhi along with Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal,” Verma alleged.
There was no reaction from Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Verma’s allegations.
The CBI raids on Friday came after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena last month recommended a probe by the agency into the alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the policy that came into effect on November 17 last year.
The Delhi government withdrew the policy in July after Saxena recommended the probe.
The CBI on Saturday began examining the accused and recorded the statements of three persons named in the FIR. It said more people will be questioned after examining the documents seized during the raids and other evidence.
The agency has named a total of nine private individuals as accused in the FIR including businessmen Vijay Nair, a former CEO of entertainment and event management company Only Much Louder; Manoj Rai, a former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; Sameer Mahendru, MD of IndoSpirit, and Hyderabad-based Arun Ramchandra Pillai.
No LOC has been issued against Manoj Rai so far, the officials said.
Sisodia’s three “close associates” — Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt. Limited in Gurgaon, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey — have also been named in the FIR as accused.