Arvind Kejriwal Names Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj In Interrogation, BJP Pounces


'Arvind Kejriwal Named 2 AAP Ministers': BJP Sharpens Attack

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Atishi (L) and Saurabh Bharadwaj (R) (File).

New Delhi:

The BJP lashed out at Arvind Kejriwal Monday after the Enforcement Directorate said the Delhi Chief Minister gave “false and contradictory evidence (regarding) other members of (his) AAP” in interrogation. The BJP also pointed to Mr Kejriwal – the “kingpin” in the liquor policy scam – reportedly calling AAP colleagues “confused” when asked about their statements.

The sharp attacks came shortly after Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court was told Mr Kejriwal had given “evasive replies” and concealed information relevant to the investigation into the alleged scam.

The court was hearing a plea by the ED seeking judicial remand of the Chief Minister for 15 days; the request was granted, with Mr Kejriwal – arrested last month – sent to Delhi’s Tihar Jail till April 15.

READ | Kejriwal Sent To Jail After Probe Agency Claims He’s “Uncooperative”

Specifically, the agency claimed Mr Kejriwal said former AAP comms boss Vijay Nair reported to Delhi Ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj and not himself, and that his “interaction with Mr Nair was (of) limited” duration. The ED, however, pointed to Mr Nair’s statements to it, in which he claims he stayed in a bungalow allotted to a cabinet minister and worked from Mr Kejriwal’s office.

“… there are reports Arvind Kejriwal said prime accused Vijay Nair used to report to Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj. Delhi Government’s liquor policy situation is becoming clearer. It is to be seen if Kejriwal resigns or heads towards a new politics…” BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said.

Mr Kejriwal reportedly also made contradictory statements when asked about ND Gupta; according to the ED, Mr Kejriwal first recognised Mr Gupta as a senior leader with knowledge of the party’s functioning. But he backtracked after a statement about Mr Kejriwal’s role in the alleged scam.

The BJP pounced on these, and other arguments made by the ED in court today to attack Delhi’s ruling AAP and call (again) for Mr Kejriwal’s resignation on “moral and Constitutional grounds”. Mr Trivedi delivered the jabs with Shazia Ilmi – with the AAP till she joined the BJP in 2015 – by his side.

The BJP today also attacked Mr Kejriwal over “moral and Constitutional questions” and mocked the anti-corruption activist-turned-politician for having “changed his guru (teacher)”.

READ | Arvind Kejriwal Once Raised His Voice Against Liquor, But…: Anna Hazare

“Anna Hazare used to be his (Mr Kejriwal’s) guru. The guru said he would not join politics, but the discipline joined and became Chief Minister. Now he has changed his guru… now the guru is Lalu Prasad Yadav,” Mr Trivedi ranted, referring to former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Mr Yadav was forced to resign as Chief Minister after being convicted in corruption scams.

“Lalu Yadav at least resigned when he was going to jail (the Rashtriya Janata Dal patriarch handed the reigns to his wife, Rabri Devi) but he (Mr Kejriwal) hasn’t resigned yet,” Mr Trivedi sneered.

The BJP’s continuing all-out attack came after the ED’s remand copy was made public.

The agency said Mr Kejriwal had failed to explain why Mr Nair – who was also a key accused till he became a government witness – had “more than 10 meetings… with co-accused persons involved in the liquor business”. The Delhi Chief Minister “evaded” this and other questions, the ED said.

NDTV Explains | Why Enforcement Directorate Arrested Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 hours after the Delhi High Court said it would not protect him from arrest. The ED believes the now-scrapped policy provided an impossibly high profit margin of 185 per cent for retailers and 12 per cent for wholesalers. Of the latter, six per cent – over Rs 600 crore – were bribes demanded by Mr Kejriwal and the money was used to fund poll campaigns.

Mr Kejriwal, his colleagues behind bars, and other senior AAP leaders have denied all charges; they have pointed to an investigation that has spanned two years and resulted in no cash recovery, and accused the BJP of a “political conspiracy” to discredit the opposition party before an election.

READ | Up At 6:30, Dal, Sabzi For Lunch, Dinner: Arvind Kejriwal’s Tihar Routine

The opposition has also accused the BJP of using investigative agencies that report to the centre – like the ED and Central Bureau of Investigation – to target rival political leaders before the election.

The BJP has firmly dismissed such claims.

Mr Kejriwal will spend the next two weeks in Jail No 2 of Delhi’s Tihar Jail, with his former deputy, Manish Sisodia; his former Health Minister, Satyendar Jain; and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.

Mr Sisodia and Mr Singh were arrested in the alleged liquor scam case, as was another opposition politician – the BRS’ K Kavitha. Mr Jain was arrested on money laundering charges.

Mr Kejriwal, meanwhile, moved the Delhi High Court against his arrest, arguing fundamental rights were violated by the agency. The court issued a notice to the ED and the hearing will resume Wednesday.

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