ED summons Arvind Kejriwal: Delhi Excise Scam and why AAP is wary of its chief being arrested
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam. This investigation centers on the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped, amid allegations that it favored specific liquor dealers.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged liquor policy scam. The ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are investigating the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 in Delhi, which is accused of favoring specific liquor dealers, an allegation strongly denied by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The ED, which is examining the money laundering aspect of the case, issued the summons on Monday, following the Supreme Court's rejection of the bail petition of Kejriwal's former deputy, Manish Sisodia, who is the main accused in the case. The judges indicated that a money trail of Rs 338 crore had been tentatively established.
ED's Excise Scam Allegations
The ED summons comes after the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, VK Saxena, recommended a CBI probe in July last year based on a report by the Delhi government's chief secretary. The report pointed out several alleged irregularities in the policy's formulation and implementation, including the waiver of Rs 144 crore to retail licensees, refunding Rs 30 crore to a successful bidder, and raising the commission of wholesale licensees.
Why AAP smells a rat
While Kejriwal had been questioned by the CBI in the case in April, this is the first time he has been summoned by the ED. The AAP has alleged that his potential arrest is part of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plan to target top leaders of the INDIA alliance ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
According to the AAP, investigative agencies have registered 95 percent of cases against opposition leaders since 2014, and now, with the formation of the INDIA alliance, the BJP is seeking to target its top leaders, starting with Kejriwal.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha claimed that the BJP's plan is aimed at preventing AAP from contesting the Delhi Lok Sabha seats, which the BJP is concerned about losing. This political confrontation has raised tensions between the two major parties.
Manish Sisodia, a former Deputy Chief Minister, was arrested by the CBI in February in connection with the case. The ED later arrested Sisodia in a money laundering case stemming from the CBI's FIR in March. His bail plea was rejected by the Supreme Court recently. The case has been controversial, with Kejriwal dismissing it as "fabricated" and an attempt to undermine the AAP.
BJP rejects AAP's Claims
The BJP has rejected the AAP's claims, accusing the party of self-destructing through its "scams, corruption, and misdeeds." The BJP maintains that the central agencies are acting independently and following due legal process. The ongoing controversy adds to the political division and animosity between the two parties, with implications for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024.