The Arvind Kejriwal-led government landed in another controversy on Friday after it turned out it was considering buying high-end equipment for surveillance and monitoring for its anti-corruption branch.
The BJP and Congress promptly jumped at the Aam Aadmi Party government, worried that the Delhi government would misuse the snooping devices to settle scores with opponents and others.
“Delhi did not vote them for snooping and that too, at our cost,” Congress spokesman Tom Vadakkan said. “We are totally shocked with available evidence and such proposals are not put up unless these have clearances from the top.”
Senior BJP leader and Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said such devices could be prone to misuse for carrying out political vendetta.
The plan to buy the equipment for “research, analysis, surveillance and monitoring purposes” was part of a Rs 36-crore proposal to run the ACB, up from Rs 7 crore spent on it currently.
A cabinet note prepared for the Kejriwal cabinet proposes to spend Rs 3.2 crore on the high-end equipment and the rest on vehicles, mobile phones, computers and salaries for additional staff.
The note, accessed by HT, said it had been approved by the minister incharge, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. Government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma, however, insisted there was no such cabinet note. “There is no question of any minster approving the note. I reiterate there is no such cabinet note and the Delhi government takes strong exception to dragging the name of any minister.”
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said the revelation about the Kejriwal government‘s plans was the ultimate proof of his dictatorial style of working. “In the Kejriwal school of politics, there is no scope for opposition or dissent,” he said, declaring the party cadre would launch street protests against the move.
The latest controversy comes in the midst of a tussle between the home ministry and the Kejriwal government over the ACB.
Control over the ACB is central to Kejriwal’s politics, given his emphasis on fighting corruption. In the last two months, the ACB has already registered 25 graft cases. But the plan to empower the ACB — which is staffed by police personnel — has clearly triggered fears about the potential to abuse the agency.