Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, who was summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for questioning on Sunday in connection with the Delhi excise policy case, sought time from the agency as he was busy with the preparation of the Delhi Budget, scheduled to be tabled next month. “I have written to the CBI and asked for time as I am finalising the Budget of Delhi and it’s a crucial time. I have told them that I will come after the last week of February and answer all their questions,” Mr. Sisodia, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said.
A CBI official said that the agency has accepted Mr. Sisodia’s request and will issue a fresh notice to him in the coming days. Mr. Sisodia, who is the prime accused in the case, was questioned by the CBI for over nine hours on October 17, 2022 but has not been named as an accused in the charge-sheet yet. The matter pertains to the Delhi Government’s new excise policy launched in 2021, which was scrapped after Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into it in July 2022. Mr. Sisodia’s residence was among the 21 locations across the country that were raided on August 11, 2022 by the agency. The Delhi Excise Department was under Mr. Sisodia when the new excise policy was launched.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, Mr. Sisodia said that he had always cooperated with the CBI in its investigation into the case and would do so in the future as well, but right now, he was “working 24X7 to finalise the Delhi Budget”, and calling him in for questioning at this time would cause “problems to the people of Delhi”.
Mr. Sisodia also questioned the timing of the summons, saying, “The Supreme Court on Friday exposed the BJP in its plans to stall the election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and the next day, I was sent a letter asking me to come in for questioning. It shows that the BJP wants to take revenge for its loss in the MCD election.” He questioned why the BJP wanted to “play politics and take revenge”. “If the BJP wants to arrest me and take revenge, they can do so but not at a time when I am finalising the Budget of Delhi,” Mr. Sisodia said.
Reacting to the Deputy CM’s move, the Delhi BJP’s working president Virendra Sachdeva said that Mr. Sisodia, who used to say that he was always prepared for any probe, was now “finding excuses to evade the inquiry” for as long as possible. “It is surprising that yesterday, Mr. Sisodia was confident that there is no evidence or case against him with CBI and offered cooperation, but today he sounded evasive from the inquiry,” the BJP leader said in a statement.
He also claimed that the AAP leader had an inkling that the probe agency had “sufficient evidence” against him. “Today, Sisodia has again claimed that the BJP may soon get him arrested through the CBI so it seems that he has an inkling that CBI has sufficient evidence against him,” Mr. Sachdeva said.