Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia has been arrested by another central agency a day before his bail hearing in the Delhi liquor policy case comes up in a special court, sources said.
The Enforcement Directorate, or ED, arrested the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister after questioning him for two days over alleged money laundering while framing the new liquor policy, which was scrapped after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI, to take a look.
The ED arrest makes matters complicated for Mr Sisodia, who has been seeking bail from the CBI court. He will be produced in a court by the ED tomorrow, the same day his bail hearing is likely to come up.
Mr Sisodia is being kept in Delhi's Tihar jail under judicial custody after the CBI's custody ended, following his arrest on February 26.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted the ED action is aimed at keeping his party colleague Mr Sisodia "inside at all cost".
"Manish was first arrested by the CBI. The CBI did not find any evidence, no money was found in the raid. There is a bail hearing tomorrow. Manish would have been released tomorrow. So today ED arrested him. They have only one aim - to keep Manish inside at all cost by creating new fake cases every day. The people are watching. The people will answer," Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi this evening.
मनीष को पहले CBI ने गिरफ़्तार किया। CBI को कोई सबूत नहीं मिला, रेड में कोई पैसा नहीं मिला। कल बेल पर सुनवाई है। कल मनीष छूट जाते। तो आज ED ने गिरफ़्तार कर लिया। इनका एक ही मक़सद है - मनीष को हर हालत में अंदर रखना। रोज़ नये फ़र्ज़ी मामले बनाकर। जनता देख रही है। जनता जवाब देगी— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 9, 2023
Mr Sisodia and others face allegations of allowing liquor cartelisation and favouring certain dealers in framing the Delhi liquor policy. The AAP has denied taking bribe from anyone, whether traders or politicians.
The BJP has said the AAP would not have withdrawn the liquor policy if it was confident of not having done anything wrong.
While in jail, Mr Sisodia wrote an open letter on what he called the "politics of education" vs "politics of jail". Mr Sisodia held several portfolios including education and excise before he was arrested.
"It is much easier to throw political opponents in jail than giving quality education to children. BJP's real problem with politics of education is that it builds nations, not leaders," Mr Sisodia wrote.
"Politics of education is not an easy task and definitely not a recipe for political success. Today, politics of jail might be winning under the rule of the BJP, but the future belongs to politics of education," he wrote.
Another key leader who faces corruption allegation linked to the Delhi liquor policy case is K Kavitha, leader of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, a key opposition leader in the centre.
She is scheduled to be questioned by the ED on March 11.
The ED has alleged Ms Kavitha is part of the "South Cartel" that benefited from kickbacks in the Delhi liquor policy. The BRS leader has denied the allegations and accused the centre of misusing investigation agencies for political goals.