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Charges a ploy to target Manish Sisodia, hamper AAP’s growth: Delhi CM Kejriwal

Updated on Jul 23, 2022 07:26 AM IST

Kejriwal addressed the media hours after lieutenant governor (L-G) VK Saxena called for a CBI probe into the state government’s 2021-22 excise policy over alleged financial irregularities and procedural lapses in its implementation.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (ANI file photo)
ByAlok KN Mishra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday slammed the Union government for recommending a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Delhi excise policy, and alleged that fake charges were being drummed up by the Centre in a ploy to arrest deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, whom he described as a “kattar imandaar” (staunchly honest) and a “deshbhakt” (patriotic).

Kejriwal addressed the media hours after lieutenant governor (L-G) VK Saxena called for a CBI probe into the state government’s 2021-22 excise policy over alleged financial irregularities and procedural lapses in its implementation. The chief minister said that his party was not afraid of going to jail, and contended that the Centre’s aim was to put behind bars Sisodia (who is also the excise minister), just as the Union government has arrested health minister Satyendar Jain in an alleged money laundering case. which he also described as “fake”.

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“You (BJP) are the disciples of VD Savarkar, who apologised to the British. We are followers of Bhagat Singh who refused to surrender to the British and sacrificed his life. We are not afraid of going to jail,” Kejriwal said during his combative address

“I had said three-four months ago that these people are going to arrest our deputy CM Manish Sisodia soon. They are after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) because we are committed to honesty, and the whole country is convinced that the AAP is completely honest. Ever since the Aam Aadmi Party won in Punjab, the storm of AAP is taking over the country, these people want to stop that. Great works have been done in education and health in Delhi, that is why they first put our health minister in jail and now they are going to put our education minister in jail,” Kejriwal said.

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Sisodia is also the state’s education minister.

“In the last 75 years, political parties government schools towards doom; the future of crores of poor children was in the dark because of them. After the formation of the AAP government, Sisodia worked day and night to make Delhi’s government schools the best in their class. Sisodia has given hope to crores of children of the country that government schools can also be of good quality and underprivileged children can also have a good future,” Kejriwal added.

Shortly after that, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) addressed a press conference to counter Kejriwal, in which Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi said that the Delhi CM should answer “specific questions” pertaining to the allegations rather than giving a “treatise on honesty”.

During his address to the media, which was played live on news channels, Kejriwal attempted to connect the dots between the CBI probe into a department headed by Sisodia and Jain’s arrest, to the AAP storming to power in Punjab and its growing footprint in other states.

The AAP, for instance, is trying to make inroads in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and recently made an impressive debut in the Madhya Pradesh civic polls where its candidate was elected mayor in Singrauli. The party also has two MLAs in the Goa assembly.

Kejriwal alleged that the BJP was determined to stop this growth.

“Political parties have looted the country together, they want to continue their loot, but now the country is rising against them. The spark that was ignited in Delhi is blazing in Punjab, and will now spread all over the country. “Everyone in the country wants their children to get good education, they want good health care. They want 24x7 free electricity, water, roads. They want to eradicate corruption. No one can stop an idea whose time has come, and AAP’s time has come; India’s time has come.” Kejriwal said.

The Delhi chief minister said his deputy will come out clean through the court.

“Now they will put Manish Sisodia in jail for some months, but his case will fall through in the courts. He will come back,” said Kejriwal. “Our country is seeing a new kind of practice in the legal system. They first decide who they have to arrest. Then they decide what crime the person has committed. Then a bogus case is fabricated against him. As per our thorough examination of the said case, we can confidently assert that this is a completely fake, fabricated, bogus case. There’s not a single ounce of truth in the case,” he added.

Later, Sisodia posted on social media that the BJP was scared of Kejriwal, which is why it was it is “using central agencies” to harass AAP leaders. “Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is very afraid of Kejriwalji. People have become disillusioned with Modiji. Now the country has hope only from Kejriwal ji. As AAP’s influence grows across the country, there will be many more false cases. But now no jail can stop Kejriwal ji and AAP,” Sisodia said on Twitter.

But the BJP’s Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, the leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly, said that the Kejriwal’s defence of Sisodia did not answer questions raised about the liquor policy.

“Under the new liquor policy, the government’s control of the sale of liquor in Delhi was completely abolished and liquor shops were opened in the streets as well as in non-conforming areas which was a clear violation of the Delhi master plan. The government had no control over the price, quality, and collection of liquor. In the excise policy, the government completely surrendered in front of the liquor mafia, and the commission of the vendors was increased from 2.5 percent to 12%,” Bidhuri said.

About the move being a ploy to checking the rise of AAP, Bidhuri said: “AAP lost the Lok Sabha seat represented by now Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann since 2014, and AAP is talking about expansion and rise. It has zero MPs in the Lok Sabha. If the case against Satyendar Jain, too, was bogus, why has he been behind bars for two months?”

Kejriwal, on his part, contended that multiple AAP MLAs have been targeted by the Centre in the past seven years, but “all of them have got relief from court, the cases have been thrown out, and the courts have scolded the agencies for their shoddy charges”.

The Delhi excise policy is aimed at revamping the Capital’s liquor business, ridding the city of cartels in the industry, introducing discounts and offering a significantly improved customer experience. However, the policy has also seen its share of hiccups, with several vendors exiting the liquor business after failing to register profits, leaving the city with just over half of the 849 mandated stores. Further, a few core tenets of the original policy, including a reduced legal age of 21 (instead of 25), and home deliveries of liquor have still to come into effect.

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