Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia today made a surprising allegation after nine hours of questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Sisodia told reporters that officials had asked him to quit the ruling Aam Aadmi Party to question him on the Delhi government’s controversial liquor policy. They even threatened that he could be like Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, who has been in jail since May after being charged in a money-laundering case, as he claims. “They will make you CM,” he quoted officials as saying. The agency refused.
“The CBI strongly refutes these allegations and reiterates that the investigation against Shri Sisodia was conducted in a professional and legal manner as per the allegations made against him in the FIR. The investigation of the case will continue in accordance with law,” the statement said. Shortly after Mr. Sisodia’s allegations made headlines.
Reaching home after a marathon questioning session that began at noon, Mr. Sisodia told reporters: “The excise policy was discussed, but I was pressured to surrender. “These things will continue. They said they will make you CM.
“I told them that I am happy when the rickshaw puller’s son gets into IIT. “Today I realized that the CBI is not investigating any scam… the case against me is just to make the Lotus operation successful,” he said.
The AAP has alleged that the BJP is trying to launch ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple the opposition government by poaching its MLAs in Delhi and Punjab. In Delhi, the party had even presented a resolution against it in the assembly last month.
Sources said Mr. Sisodia was questioned about the involvement of liquor companies in the preparation of the liquor policy. The agency also had questions about claims that liquor firms made 12 per cent profit in the process, of which 6 per cent was diverted to civil servants through middlemen such as Hyderabad businessman Abhishek Bonipally.
Other big questions were related to the loss to the state in the process and irregularities in the introduction of the policy, such as the approval of the cabinet after the new rules were introduced.
In some relief to the AAP, which was preparing for Mr. Sisodia’s arrest, the agency did not summon him for the second meeting.
Mr. Sisodia’s house was subjected to multiple searches by the CBI in August after Delhi Governor VK Saxena obtained permission for the probe. The deputy prime minister is the alleged prime accused in a case involving transfers of money by private players to political leaders in return for liquor shop licences.
The AAP said Mr Sisodia would now be arrested in what it called a “political vendetta” by the BJP.
The BJP, AAP claims, is “fearful” of the outcome of the Gujarat assembly elections and wants to stop key leaders from campaigning in the state.
Party chief and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the BJP was planning to keep Mr. Sisodia in jail until the Gujarat elections. But no prison can hold his deputy, he added. “Jail locks will be broken, Manish Sisodia will be free,” he tweeted in Hindi.
Earlier today, several AAP leaders, including MP Sanjay Singh, were detained after they staged a mass protest against the interrogation of Manish Sisodia. About 100 leaders and workers were detained in front of the CBI office.
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