Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has an audio recording of a BJP leader calling him with an offer to drop a CBI case against him if he left the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and helped bring it down, sources from his party claimed on Monday.
"We don't need to release the conversation at this point. But if needed, AAP will release the phone conversation," an AAP leader said, requesting not to be named.
Mr Sisodia, charged by the CBI over allegations linked to the capital's now-overturned liquor policy, had said earlier in the day that the BJP had offered to "shut all cases" against him if he quit the AAP and crossed over.
"I have received a message from the BJP -- break AAP and join BJP. We will ensure that all cases by CBI and ED against you are shut," Manish Sisodia tweeted two days after the CBI raided him and named him in a chargesheet on the alleged liquor policy case.
The BJP strongly refuted the claim. "This is a part of AAP's shoot-and-scoot policy. If they have proof, they should release it," BJP leader Pramod Swami said.
Stressing that all cases against him are false, Manish Sisodia had challenged the BJP to do "whatever you want to do".
"My reply to BJP -- I am a descendant of Maharana Pratap and a Rajput. I am ready to get beheaded but can never bow down before conspirators and corrupt people. All the cases against me are false. Do whatever you want to do," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Slamming Mr Sisodia, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari said it was shameful that he was comparing himself to Maharana Pratap.
"It is shameful that he is comparing himself to Maharana Pratap. Did Maharana Pratap make people drink alcohol? You are selling alcohol in every nook and corner. You are ignoring the cries of Delhi's women. Maharana Pratap had once taken up arms for women," he said.
"You are comparing Maharana Pratap with someone facing a corruption case? Such corrupt people can only find a place in AAP. He will get punishment for his wrongdoing. BJP works to ensure punish wrongdoers like Manish Sisodia. No place for the corrupt in BJP," he added.
AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj, backing the charge, said there are "three dozen examples" of the BJP pressuring leaders of rival parties with investigations and then dropping cases once they switched sides.
Calling Arvind Kejriwal, his political guru, Mr Sisodia said he'd never betray him. "My message to BJP on offer to make me CM candidate - @ArvindKejriwal is my political guru, I will never betray him. I did not come here to become CM, my dream is - every child of the country should get a good education, and only then India will become the number 1 country. Only Kejriwal ji can do this work in the whole country," Mr Sisodia tweeted in Hindi.
The CBI recently raided the senior AAP leader in a case related to alleged irregularities and corruption in Delhi's liquor policy which was introduced earlier this year and then rolled back.
Seemingly undeterred, Mr Sisodia last week doubled down saying the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 was the "best" of its kind and would have earned Rs 10,000 crore every year but for a last-minute decision-change by former Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
The Deputy Chief Minister alleges that Mr Baijal changed his mind on allowing liquor shops in unauthorised colonies and that it led to a loss of thousands of crores to the city government.
Backing his deputy, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal also slammed the BJP today. He said the BJP-led government is busy misusing probe agencies and plotting ways to bring down elected governments even as people suffer from skyrocketing inflation and a diving rupee.
AAP alleges that cases against Mr Sisodia and other leaders are cooked up because the BJP fears the popularity of the party and its chief Arvind Kejriwal. Mr Sisodia has said that the 2024 general election is set to be a contest between Mr Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused the BJP of misusing central agencies to stop the AAP leader.