Addressing a press conference, Manish Sisodia, who also handles the Excise Department, alleged that the CBI officials were instructed by the "high command" to raid his home. He claimed that to stop Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal because his work in the education and health sector is being discussed globally.
"The BJP-ruled central government is not worried about any excise fraud, it is worried about Arvind Kejriwal because they see him as the main challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming general election," Mr Sisodia said, adding that the 2024 election will be battle between the AAP and the BJP.
Mr Sisodia denied any wrongdoing and said the Excise Policy was implemented with complete transparency. The minister also said that he will most likely be arrested in the coming days, but that won't deter his party from doing the good work.
He reiterated that the centre was furious over the front-page shout-out to the Delhi education model in the New York Times on Thursday.
Union minister Anurag Thakur today alleged that Manish Sisodia is just an accused in the liquor 'scam', but Arvind Kejriwal is the kingpin. On AAP's claim of being the main challenger to the BJP in the 2024 general election, Mr Thakur said, "AAP made tall claims earlier too but could not stand before PM Modi."
Besides Mr Sisodia's home in Delhi, 31 other locations were searched by the CBI across seven states. Mr Sisodia is number one on a list of 15 accused named in the CBI's FIR on liquor policy violations. The offences listed in the 11-page document are corruption, criminal conspiracy and falsification of accounts.
In its FIR, the CBI claimed that a liquor trader has paid Rs 1 crore to a company managed by an associate of Mr Sisodia. The probe agency alleges that liquor companies and middlemen were "actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation" of the excise policy.
In a bureaucratic reshuffle, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had ordered the transfer of 12 IAS officers last evening following the raids on Mr Sisodia.
Under the policy launched in November, liquor shop licenses were handed over to private players. It was rolled back by Mr Sisodia on July 30 after a probe was started initially by the Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing.
The Lieutenant Governor had recommended the CBI probe last month, accusing AAP of bringing the Excise Policy "with the sole aim" of benefiting private liquor barons for financial benefits to "individuals at the highest echelons of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia".
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