Manish Sisodia | Photo: ANI
New Delhi: In the wake of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) summoning Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for questioning in the alleged excise policy corruption case, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj on Sunday claimed that Sisodia "will be arrested tomorrow".
He also tried to draw parallels between the CBI summoning Sisodia with the upcoming Gujarat elections.
According to Bhardwaj, the Bharatiya Janata Party is scared of AAP in Gujarat as it is competing with them.
"CBI has summoned Manish Sisodia and will arrest him tomorrow. It has been alleged that a huge scam of Rs 10,000 crore has taken place and for that CBI and ED (Enforcement Directorate) have raided at atleast 500 places so far. CBI raided Sisodia's residence for 14 hours, but they could not find anything," said AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj.
"This is directly linked with Gujarat elections as AAP competes with the BJP there and hence is scared. Manish Sisodia will be arrested to stop his programmes but the AAP will only grow stronger," he added.
Bhardwaj further mentioned that he is confident about Sisodia's arrest because the same drill has it happened earlier when AAP leaders were called for questioning and then arrested.
While exuding confidence in AAP's victory in Gujarat, the AAP senior leader said that the party will emerge "stronger" with the "increasing" numbers of arrests.
"We would have remained silent if we were afraid. The rise in the number of arrests will raise our graph in Gujarat, the increase in BJP's oppression will make our graph rise," he said.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was summoned by CBI today and he shall go to the central agency's headquarters on Monday, he confirmed with his tweet.
"I will go and fully cooperate with the CBI as it has called me to the headquarters at 11 am tomorrow after raiding my house for 14 hours and searching bank account and even my village where they could not find anything," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
In August, the enforcement agencies conducted searches on Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia's official residence among several other places in connection with the alleged corruption in the implementation of Delhi's excise policy.
Sisodia, who is in charge of the excise department, has been under the scanner for alleged deliberate and gross procedural lapses which provided undue benefits to the tender process for liquor licensees for the year 2021-22.
Sisodia is believed to have executed decisions in violation of the statutory provisions of the Excise Policy, which could have huge financial implications. Such "undue financial favours" to the liquor licensees after the deadline for awarding tenders caused huge losses to the exchequer, sources earlier claimed.
The excise policy was passed in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Cabinet in the middle of the deadly Delta Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
Sisodia was among 15 others booked in an FIR filed by the CBI in August including then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.
Other accused are Manoj Rai, a former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director of Brindco Sales; director of Buddy Retail Amit Arora, and Dinesh Arora; authorised signatories of Mahadev Liquors Sunny Marwah, Arun Ramchandra Pillai and Arjun Pandey.
The ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority's approval. The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.
As alleged, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19.
This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, said the FIR, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.