AAP Accuses ED of Political Bias in Excise Policy Case

Supreme Court dismissal of ED's claims adds fuel to political tensions

New Delhi: AAP leader and Delhi minister Atishi on Tuesday accused the Enforcement Directorate of becoming a “political weapon” and claimed that its assertion that BRS leader K. Kavitha was involved in paying ₹ 100 crores to AAP leaders for favours in the now-scrapped excise policy has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Addressing a press conference, she alleged that the ED’s action was aimed at stopping Delhi chief minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal from campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP, meanwhile, hit out at AAP supremo for skipping multiple summonses by the Enforcement Directorate and said he cannot escape the “long hand” of the law for so long as there is evidence of his involvement in the alleged excise policy scam. BJP leader Sambit Patra attacked the AAP for defending BRS leader K. Kavitha, and said the ED’s actions were based on evidence.

Ms Kavitha, the MLC daughter of former Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, was arrested by the ED last week from her Hyderabad home and she is in the agency’s custody till March 23.

In a statement on Monday, the ED claimed Kavitha, along with others, had “conspired with the top leaders of AAP, including Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, for getting favours in the Delhi excise policy formulation and implementation”. ”In exchange for these favours, she was involved in paying Rs 100 crores to the leaders of AAP,” the ED said.

Dismissing the allegation, Atishi said: “Political parties issue press releases. Why did the ED issue a political press release? This means that ED has become a political weapon. The BJP is scared of only one political leader -- Arvind Kejriwal. They want to stop him from campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls.”

“Yesterday, the ED issued a press release saying that a ₹ 100 crore bribe was given to AAP leaders. This assertion was dismissed by the Supreme Court last year while hearing the bail plea of former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia,” she said.

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva also lashed out at the AAP and said that as the noose of the law is getting tightened around Mr Kejriwal, frustrated AAP leaders have forgotten that investigative agencies release press statements on the crucial developments of every high-profile case.

In another press conference, her Cabinet colleague Saurabh Bharadwaj echoed similar views and said that Mr Kejriwal posing questions to the BJP makes them uncomfortable.

“Our key leaders are in jail. They are trying to put our top leader in jail,” he alleged.

He also reiterated that no money trail has been found and no recovery has been made by the ED in its probe in the excise policy case. The agency said it has conducted searches at 245 locations across the country since the registration of a case in 2022 and has arrested 15 persons, including AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh and some liquor businessmen.

It has filed a total of six chargesheets in this case till now and has attached assets worth over ₹ 128 crores. The ED and the CBI have alleged the Delhi government's excise policy to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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