Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday after being questioned for over eight hours in the Delhi liquor policy case. This comes as a major setback for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, which has been accusing the central government of political vendetta.
According to the CBI, Sisodia's answers were not satisfactory, and he did not cooperate in the investigation. He was arrested along with 14 others in the case of alleged irregularities in framing and implementation of the Excise Policy for the year 2021-22 and extending post-tender benefits to private persons.
Sisodia arrived at the CBI headquarters at 11 am on Saturday and was questioned for nearly eight hours about alleged corruption in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy. CBI officials said that the Deputy Chief Minister was grilled on various aspects of the excise policy, including his alleged link with Dinesh Arora and other accused mentioned in the FIR, and details of message exchanges from multiple phones.
The CBI officials said that Sisodia's evasive replies and lack of cooperation led to the decision to arrest him. They also claimed that he did not give clarifications sought by officials on crucial points. The agency stated, "He (Manish Sisodia) gave evasive replies and did not cooperate the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary."
The Delhi minister will be produced before the designated court on Monday, according to the CBI. Calling the case against him "fake," Sisodia had earlier said he was ready for seven to eight months in jail. The arrest of the Deputy Chief Minister has sparked a political uproar, with the AAP alleging that it is a political vendetta by the central government.
The AAP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh tweeted, "It is a matter of shame that the central government is resorting to such tactics to harass opposition leaders. The arrest of Manish Sisodia is a clear example of political vendetta."
The Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, also expressed his disappointment over the arrest of his deputy minister. He tweeted, "I am deeply saddened by the arrest of Manish Sisodia. The BJP government is using the CBI to harass our leaders. We will fight this politically and legally."
The arrest of Sisodia is the second arrest of a Delhi minister by the CBI. In 2014, then-law minister Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested on charges of possessing a fake degree.