AAP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday appeared before the CBI for questioning in the Delhi excise policy scam case. Ahead of his questioning, the deputy chief minister said he was not afraid of going to jail over “false allegations”.
“When I left my job as a journalist, my wife supported me and even today, my family is standing by my side. My workers will take care of my family if I get arrested,” he told reporters.
Saying that he would fully cooperate with the probe, he asserted, “I have the love of lakhs of children and crores of countrymen with me. Even if I have to go to jail for a few months, I do not care. We are followers of Bhagat Singh. Bhagat Singh died for the country. If I have to go to jail over such false allegations, it is a small thing”.
Sisodia arrived at the heavily-barricaded CBI office after paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat.
Police detained several AAP leaders, including Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai, for protesting near the CBI office. Section 144 has been imposed in the south district, the police said.
Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio in the Delhi Cabinet, was originally summoned last Sunday but he sought deferment of his questioning citing the Budget exercise, following which, the CBI had asked him to appear on February 26.
The AAP leader, accused number one in the CBI FIR, was earlier questioned on October 17, a month before the agency filed its chargesheet on November 25 last year.
The CBI had not named Sisodia in the chargesheet as the central probe agency kept the probe open against him and other suspects and accused, they said.
Sisodia will be questioned on various aspects of the excise policy, his alleged links with liquor traders, and politicians and claims made by witnesses in their statements.
Armed with confessional statements of Sisodia’s “close associate” Dinesh Arora, and information gleaned from questioning of alleged members of South Lobby, a coterie of politicians and liquor businessmen who allegedly swung the policy in their favour, the CBI has prepared an elaborate questionnaire for him, officials had said.
It is alleged that the Delhi governments policy to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.
“It was further alleged that irregularities were committed including modifications in Excise Policy, extending undue favours to the licensees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, the extension of L-1 license without approval etc.
“It was also alleged that illegal gains on the count of these acts were diverted to concerned public servants by private parties by making false entries in their books of accounts,” a CBI spokesperson had said.
Coming out in support of his deputy, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said going to jail for the country and the society is not a curse but a matter of pride.
“God is with you Manish. The blessings of lakhs of children and their parents are with you. When you go to jail for the country and the society, it is not a curse but a matter of pride. I pray to god that you return from jail soon. Delhi’s children, their parents and all of us will wait for you,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said Sisodia was “fighting the battle of truth” and the whole country was with him. He also said “we are all with the person” who brought revolution in education sector.
Recently, the CBI arrested Butchibabu Gorantla, a former Chartered Accountant of K Kavitha, a BRS MLC in Telangana and a daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
It is alleged that Babu had met several accused named in the FIR in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai and was one of the prime negotiators from the South Lobby, which wanted to swing the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 in its favour.
The CBI had also questioned Kavitha in connection with the case in December last year.
During its probe, the CBI had found evidence that Babu acted on behalf of the South Lobby comprising the Telangana MLC, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and Aurobindo Pharmas P Sarat Chandra Reddy.
(With Agency inputs)