The arrest of Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh in Delhi liquor excise scam on Wednesday, after a day-long search at his residence, has caused ripples in political circles. AAP workers staged protests in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh, while BJP workers staged counter-protest in Delhi. Sanjay Singh is the second top AAP leader to be arrested in the liquor excise case after Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who is presently in Tihar jail. Sanjay Singh has been accused of helping liquor businessmen in procuring licenses and his name has been mentioned in the chargesheet multiple times. While AAP alleged that the action was nothing but ‘political vendetta’, BJP leaders said, it is now the turn of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to face the music. There was drama on Wednesday before and during the arrest, with Sanjay Singh saying in a video, “I accept dying, but not bowing down”.
Kejriwal described the arrest as illegal and said, it reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “nervousness”. Kejriwal said, “they will arrest many more opposition until the next general elections”. On his part, Sanjay Singh claimed, “I had spoken openly against industrialist Adani and will continue to do so in future. We are soldiers of Kejriwal and will not back down in the face of atrocities.” The fact of the matter is that some of the accused in the liquor case have named Sanjay Singh for helping their liquor cartels.
On Tuesday, a Delhi court had accepted the plea of two key accused, Dinesh Arora, a prominent liquor trader and Raghav Magunta, son of YSR Congress MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, to turn approvers. Dinesh Arora and Raghav Magunta were arrested by ED earlier this year and are now out on bail. ED claims that nearly Rs 200 crores in bribes were paid to public servants in Delhi by the liquor cartel controlled by the ‘South Group’ that benefited from the new liquor policy. The ED chargesheet says, Dinesh Arora has confessed that it was at the request of Sanjay Singh that he spoke to several restaurant owners and arranged cheques amounting to Rs 82 lakh and handed them to Manish Sisodia, the then Deputy CM. Arora has also claimed that he had also met CM Kejriwal once at his residence with Sanjay Singh. But Singh refuted all of ED’s claims saying that he had no links to the liquor cartel. The fact remains that Dinesh Arora had close contacts with Sanjay Singh. BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa has shown letters and photographs to establish that Arora and AAP leaders had close contacts.
The moot point is: whenever AAP leaders are arrested on charges of corruption, their leader and other partymen allege that Prime Minister Modi has become afraid of Kejriwal’s popularity. They also claim that they are being subjected to witch hunt because they had been “exposing” Adani group’s irregularities, and that BJP has become afraid of the 2024 general elections. AAP leaders never speak in detail about the Delhi excise scam, nor do they give logical arguments. AAP leaders claim that not a single rupee was seized from the residences of their leaders, but it is also a fact that in Punjab, ruled by AAP, leaders were arrested on charge of corruption and not a single rupee was seized from them. I think, Kejriwal’s worries are bigger. His party was founded on anti-corruption plan after a long agitation.
Kejriwal had levelled serious charges of corruption against opposition leaders like Sharad Pawar, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sonia Gandhi in the past. But now politics has taken a complete U-turn and Kejriwal is now being forced to join these leaders in an alliance. The interesting part is that the more opposition leaders abuse ED of witch hunting, the more ED is making the opposition bloc stronger. This is because ED is taking action against leaders of parties belonging to the alliance. Not only Sanjay Singh, but Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is also now on ED’s radar. He and his wife Rujira have received summons for questioning in the Bengal teachers’ recruitment scam.
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