CBI arrests Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia in liquor policy case
NEW DELHI : Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) in connection with alleged corruption in the now-withdrawn liquor policy of Delhi. He will be produced in court tomorrow morning.
Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s finance, excise and education minister, was being questioned by the Central agency since morning and the expected arrest came after over nine hours. He is the second Delhi minister to be arrested since Satyendar Jain.
While Mr Sisodia’s arrest was anticipated by his and his party, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi, it is not known whether a protest will be held tonight. In the morning, a protest by the Aam Aadmi Party was broken up and several leaders and workers were detained. The arrest is in connection with alleged corruption in the implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy for 2021-22. Sisodia, accused number one in the CBI FIR, was earlier questioned on October 17, a month before the agency filed its charge sheet on November 25.
The CBI had not named Sisodia in the charge sheet as the central probe agency kept the probe open against him and other suspects and accused. more than seven months after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Saxena recommended a CBI probe against him over the Delhi excise policy, Sisodia was put under arrest.Reacting to the arrest of Manish Sisodia in relation to the Delhi liquor excise policy case, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said, “He is innocent…this is dirty politics”. In a tweet, he said, “There is a lot of anger among the people due to the arrest of Manish. Everyone is watching. People are understanding everything. People will respond to this”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann are on the way meet Manish Sisodia’s house at Mathura Road to meet his family. Earlier in the day, Sisodia got emotional and appealed to people to take care of his wife as she is sick and not doing well. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann termed Manish Sisodia’s arrest is “contempt for education of hundreds of kids in Delhi”. In a tweet, “The arrest of Manish Sisodia ji is actually a contempt for the education of lakhs of children of Delhi..Sending the school builder to jail is part of BJP’s “agenda”
The police have made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order, turning Delhi into a virtual fortress with multiple blockades and check-points. Police teams have been deployed outside Mr Sisodia’s house and the CBI office. “The BJP has been saying Manish Sisodia is corrupt. But you didn’t get anything from his house or bank accounts. They haven’t been able to prove any allegation against him. His arrest is a matter of attacking AAP and Kejriwal’s popularity,” said Aam Aadmi Party’s Aatishi at a press conference. The party has also questioned the absence of a money trail.
Mr Sisodia and others face corruption allegations in bringing a new liquor sale policy in the national capital. The CBI contends that liquor companies were involved in framing of the 2021 policy, for which kickbacks to the tune of ₹ 100 crore were paid by a liquor lobby it dubbed the “South Group”.
2. The policy would have led to a 12 per cent profit for them, of which 6 per cent was routed to public servants through middlemen, the agency claimed. The Enforcement Directorate has also launched an investigation, alleging laundering of the kickbacks. After the policy was scrapped, the BJP said the Delhi government went back to the old liquor sale policy to cover up the corruption.
Calling the case against him “fake”, Mr Sisodia had earlier said he was ready for a seven to eight months in jail. “Even if I am in jail for 7-8 months, don’t feel sorry for me, be proud,” tweeted the leader, who had started the day with a show of strength by his supporters and a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in Raj Ghat.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Harish Khurrana said, “Since last night, both Sisodia and Kejriwal were fearing that the Deputy CM would be arrested. Only those who are guilty are afraid of the consequences of their actions…We have been saying from the beginning that Manish Sisodia is involved in the liquor scam… Now he will have to answer why he gave undue benefits to liquor dealers, why 45 phone numbers were changed within 1.5 months…”. Khurranna added that the real “kingpin” of the scam was Arvind Kejriwal, and that Sisodia was merely a “pawn”.
(Pic: pti-Bureau Report with Media Inputs).