Political tension ramped up in Delhi last week after the ED ordered Mr Kejriwal to record his statement over claims the AAP got crores as bribes for an excise policy benefitting certain people.
Mr Kejriwal refused to do so; he was to appear at the agency’s Delhi office at 11 am, but shortly before released a letter demanding the “illegal and politically motivated” summons be withdrawn.
After skipping the summons Mr Kejriwal went to campaign in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, where he accused the BJP of “threatening” him daily with arrest. “You can arrest Kejriwal’s body but how will you arrest Kejriwal’s thoughts?” he demanded of voters in Akaltara in Bilaspur district.
The ED’s summons of Mr Kejriwal had led to furious pushback from the AAP and speculation the Delhi Chief Minister could be arrested. Delhi Minister Atishi declared to reporters that Mr Kejriwal would be arrested because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “scared” of the Aam Aadmi Party.
AAP leaders and opposition politicians have repeatedly accused the BJP of having “weaponised” the ED to target and harass rival leaders, particularly before elections.
Mr Kejriwal’s former deputy, Manish Sisodia, was arrested in the same liquor policy case in February, and by the ED the following month, after being questioned while in Tihar Jail. The ED last month also arrested AAP MP Sanjay Singh over money laundering charges linked to the liquor policy case.
Mr Sisodia, who has been in jail for nearly two months now, was last week denied bail by the Supreme Court. The court said a money trail of Rs 338 crore had been “tentatively established”.
Mr Singh has moved the Supreme Court too but his plea has yet to be heard. The Delhi High Court had refused to interfere with his arrest, saying it could not impute political motives absent proof.
The ED has claimed the money noted by the Supreme Court – the Rs 338 crore – was illegally earned by private individuals who wrongfully received liquor licences under the now-scrapped policy. This money, agencies have claimed, was then used by the AAP to fund its Goa election campaign.
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