The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh following several hours of questioning in connection with the Delhi excise policy case, in which former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is already in judicial custody.
Mr. Singh, who is considered close to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, is the third senior AAP leader to be arrested in less than a year and a half, as former Delhi Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain was arrested by the ED on May 30 last year in an alleged money laundering case.
Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr. Kejriwal called the arrest “totally illegal”. “This shows Modiji’s desperation. They will arrest many more Opposition leaders before the election,” Mr. Kejriwal said in a post on social media platform X.
In a video taken before his arrest and released later, Mr. Singh said that the ED searched his house through the day and did not find anything, but they were going to arrest him. “This [arrest] is an example of how a cowardly Prime Minister wants to win the election by putting people in jail and through dictatorship. I will keep talking against the corruption of the Narendra Modi government and Adani,” Mr. Singh said.
The ED officials reached the Rajya Sabha MP’s residence around 7 a.m. on Wednesday and carried out searches. They quizzed him before he was arrested. The agency has not yet disclosed the specific grounds of arrest.
In one of the prosecution complaints (chargesheets), the ED has alleged that Mr. Singh was linked to a businessman and key accused, Dinesh Arora. On Tuesday, a special court allowed Mr. Arora and co-accused, Raghav Magunta, who is the son of YSRCP MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, to turn government witnesses in the case.
The agency had earlier alleged that Mr. Arora had been closely associated with the AAP since the time it came to power in Delhi. He allegedly collected cash from all the hoteliers and restaurateurs for the party leaders.
The ED probe is based on a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others on August 17 last year, on a reference from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The case alleges deliberate irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy and undue favours extended to the licencees in the form of waiver/reduction in the licence fee, extension of L-1 licences without approval, etc.
According to the ED, the erstwhile policy had extended an extraordinarily high 12% profit margin for wholesalers and almost 185% profit margin for the retailers. The beneficiaries were allowed to profiteer through cartelisation.
The then AAP communication and media in-charge, Vijay Nair, on behalf of the party leaders, had received about ₹100 crore in advance from a “South group”, the ED said. The group’s prominent entities were allegedly Mr. Reddy and his son; K. Kavitha, the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and a Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC; and Aurobindo Pharma director P. Sarath Chandra Reddy.
The ED has quantified the alleged “proceeds of crime” in the case to be at least ₹1,934 crore.
AAP has announced that it will protest outside the BJP headquarters in Delhi against the “dictatorship” of the party and to save India’s democracy and Constitution.
Delhi CM visits family
After the arrest, Mr. Kejriwal, along with his wife Sunita Kejriwal and other party leaders, went to meet with Mr. Singh’s family and expressed solidarity.
Mr. Kejriwal said that the AAP is a staunchly honest party and honesty’s path is very hard. “Today, if we become dishonest like these people, all our problems will be solved. We are honest and that is why we are facing all these problems,” he said.
“Modiji is immersed in corruption from head to toe. I believe that if there is someone who is independent India’s most corrupt Prime Minister, it is Narendra Modiji. Tomorrow, when his government is no longer in power, and the investigation into his actions takes place, it will become clear how much corruption he has engaged in. Sanjay Singh’s voice was the loudest both inside and outside Parliament against this corruption and Modiji could not bear it,” Mr. Kejriwal said.