Eight opposition leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in response to Manish Sisodia’s arrest, warning that it will be used as an example of a political witch hunt and further demonstrate what the rest of the world already believed: that India’s democratic values are in danger under an authoritarian BJP.
The letter has the signatures of nine politicians, including seven from outside the AAP, but Congress is not one of them. The letter has the signatures of the Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah, the National Conference president, Bhagwant Mann, the Punjab chief minister, Tejashwi Yadav, and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
“We hope you would agree that India is still a democratic country. The blatant misuse of central agencies against the members of the opposition appears to suggest that we have transitioned from being a democracy to an autocracy, “the letter said.
On February 26th, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, in relation to the Liquor Tax Policy case. The CBI had searched Sisodia’s home in August 2022 after identifying him in the FIR that alleged wrongdoing in the creation of Delhi’s liquor policy.
Sisodia stated earlier this week that the Aam Aadmi Party’s expansion was demonstrated by the Union home ministry’s approval for the CBI to pursue him in a purported snooping case. Sisodia claimed in October of last year that the CBI had pressured him into joining the BJP if he wanted to escape going to jail. These accusations had been refuted by the CBI.
“The deputy chief minister gave evasive replies and did not co-operate with the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary. Therefore, he has been arrested. The arrested accused will be produced before the designated court in Delhi,” the agency had said in a statement.
“The case was registered against the Deputy Chief Minister and in-charge Excise Minister and 14 others for an investigation into the matter of alleged irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy for the year 2021-22 and extending post tender benefits to private persons. A chargesheet was filed on December 25, 2022 against the then CEO of a Mumbai-based private company and six others,” the agency said in a statement.
Meanwhile AAP has charged the BJP with conducting a witch hunt against its leaders after the CBI detained Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the Delhi liquor scam case.
Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister, argued that his detention was the result of dirty politics and claimed that Sisodia was innocent.
Sanjay Singh, a Rajya Sabha member for the AAP, stated that Sisodia’s detention was the pinnacle of authoritarianism. You made a mistake by detaining the finest education minister and a good person. Atishi, an AAP MLA and spokesperson, claimed that Sisodia’s arrest was motivated by the party’s rising popularity.
On political implications and impact of arrest of Sisodia on AAP, Praveen Rai who is a Political Analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi said, “The arrest of Sisodia on corruption charges exposed the hypocrisy of AAP that promises to derail its plan to occupy the main opposition space in national politics. The exit of Sisodia, number 2 and reformist face of the party, will create temporary policy paralysis in Delhi as he single-handedly handled 18 ministries.”
On impact, Rai Said, “It will have an impact on the AAP in two ways: one the imbroglio will undermine its USP of corruption free governance and principled politics. Two, it will lose the political traction gained after winning Punjab elections and advantages of securing national party status. Three, the resignations of Sisodia and Satyendra Jain from the cabinet will create a crisis of leadership legitimacy and weaken the benefits of party institutionalization. AAP seems to have mastered the art of hypocrisy and taking one step forward in politics and two steps back.”
Mehmood Khan, IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus who was the candidate for JJP-AAP alliance for the Gurgaon parliamentary seat in 2019, who gave the name and the acronym AAP on 23rd September 2012, said, “I have to take you back to September 2012. As you may know that on 23rd September 2012 in the presence of Dilip Pandey and Kishore Asthana, I proposed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). As I am older then Arvind, I had told him events after emergency. Our movement during 2010 to 2012 had created a situation where change was inevitable. I had always proposed large base for leadership across the states. Just to give you one example I wanted Mallika Sarabhai from Gujarat. This is where I found Arvind has very poor vision.”
“Arvind feels insecure when a more competent person is in discussions with him. So, he never proposed me in the National Executive. In due course lot of original founders left one by one. Arvind has very limited talent pool.This accident was bound to happen.With limited talent pool, he keeps making blunders.In the liquor fiasco, it was very poor decision and along the way they have trapped themselves. Modi Government is so delighted to trap Manish! Sanjay Singh alone won’t be able to save the party. Arvind has put himself in so many knots, I don’t see much future,” said Khan
S R Darapuri, Retd IPS officer who is the National President of All India People’s Front said, “A few days ago, CBI arrested Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Kejriwal’s Delhi government, on charges of alleged corruption in the liquor policy. Statements have been issued in this regard by some political parties in his support. In this regard, All India People’s Front is of the opinion that the forces fighting against the fascist politics of BJP and RSS should refrain from speaking in favour of such elements who by remaining silent during the attack on the minorities in Delhi, in a way, had supported the attackers. It is also known that their character in the anti-fascist fight has generally been questionable.
“The way Aam Aadmi Party is opposing it saying that Modi fears Kejriwal is nothing but bigotry. Some opposition parties have also opposed it in such a way that Arvind Kejriwal and his party are fighting against the fascist politics of BJP and RSS. But to what extent is this true? It is well known that the kind of role this party played during the CAA/NRC movement, Markaz episode during Corona and later during the Delhi riots is clear to all,” said Drapuri.
Also Read: Arrest of Manish Sisodia – What is Wrong?
However, if we analyse some earlier cases of corruption and the role of investigating agencies and also the role of the BJP led government we can understand the merits of these cases and political agenda behind it.
For example: 1. Suvendu Adhikari was accused in the Narada scam. But probe stopped soon after he joined BJP.
2. Bhavna Gawli who is MP Shinde Sena earlier had skipped 5 ED but now he is the chief whip of Shinde Sena in Lok Sabha.
3. Narayan Rane who was accused of a 300-crore moneylaundering racket is now a union minister. Investigation stopped after he joined BJP.
4. Pratap Sarnaik was raided by ED in money laundering case at the time when he was with Shiv Sena. Now he is with Shinde Sena and the case has been closed now.
5. Himanta Biswa Sarma was accused in bribery scandal but probe stopped after he joined BJP.
Also Read: ‘Strategic Silence’ – Lesson for AAP supporters
The above cases can well define the nature of the investigative process and political agenda of the ruling dispensation and their seriousness against corruption. It is not clear how the investigation will proceed further and what would be its final outcome but what is sure is that arrest of Sisodia will galvanise regional forces to come together.
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