Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday said that he was being targeted by the CBI because the centre was furious over the shout-out to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), at home and abroad, for its "commendable" work in education and healthcare sector.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV, Manish Sisodia, who has been named an accused in a First Information Report filed by the CBI on liquor policy violations, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "misusing" the central investigating agencies against political rivals.
Mr Sisodia said the government wants to scare his party leaders because they see Arvind Kejriwal as the main challenger to PM Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
He said the country needs a Prime Minister who would make India the "number one country in the world", and not someone who thinks about the CBI and ED all the time.
"PM Modi thinks about launching raids against his political rivals via CBI and ED all the time, while Arvind Kejriwal thinks about healthcare, education and employment," Mr Sisodia told NDTV.
Mr Sisodia denied any wrongdoing and said nothing was found in the 14-hour raid at his home, and nothing will be found because there was no scam.
"They don't care about any fraud in excise policy, otherwise they would have first probed the corruption in BJP-ruled Gujarat where Rs 10,000 crore excise tax evasion is happening every year. Thousand die there after consuming toxic liquor," he said.
"A BJP leader first alleged a scam of Rs 8,000, then another leader claimed Rs 1,100 crore fraud. Now, they are alleging a Rs 144 crore scam, but they will not find anything because there was complete transparency in the implementation of the liquor policy," he said.
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. "I am not scared," he said.
The BJP, meanwhile, alleged that the Delhi Chief Minister is the "kingpin" of the excise policy "scam".
"Roots of the excise policy 'scam' lead to the doorstep of corrupt Kejriwal. No one is above law and no corrupt person will be spared," Party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told reporters.
On AAP's claim of being the main challenger to the BJP in the 2024 general election, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had said, "AAP made tall claims earlier too but could not stand before PM Modi."
The CBI had carried out searches at the residence of Manish Sisodia and 31 other locations across seven states on Friday over allegations of corruption in the liquor policy.
Mr Sisodia is number one on a list of 15 accused named in the CBI's FIR. The offences listed in the 11-page document are corruption, criminal conspiracy and falsification of accounts.
The probe agency alleges that liquor companies and middlemen were "actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation" of the excise policy.
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".