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AAP leaders faced action by central agencies, Delhi Police in past

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New Delhi, Aug 19: Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is the latest in the long line of AAP leaders and ministers who faced action by central probe agencies and the Delhi Police on charges ranging from money laundering to physical attacks.

Manish Sisodia

The CBI on Friday raided the home of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and 20 other locations in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy, escalating tensions between the BJP-led Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party which alleged the agency was acting on orders "from above".

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Raghav Chadha claimed that over 100 false cases had been registered against the party leaders but they came clean in courts every time.

Arvind Kejriwal's name figured in the 2018 assault on then chief secretary Anshu Prakash during a meeting at the chief minister's official residence.

In February of that year, the Delhi Police, which comes under the Central government, visited the chief minister's residence looking for video and other evidence in connection with an alleged assault by AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal. The trial court had discharged Kejriwal, Sisodia and other AAP MLAs – Rajesh Rishi, Nitin Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Ajay Dutt, Sanjeev Jha, Rituraj Govind, Rajesh Gupta, Madan Lal, and Dinesh Mohania – in the case.

It ordered the framing of charges against Khan and Jarwal. Kejriwal, Sisodia and nine other AAP MLAs were granted bail in October 2018.

Khan and Prakash Jarwal were granted bail earlier by the high court. Just like on Friday Kejriwal claimed the CBI has "orders from above to harass them", he and his deputy in the past accused the Centre of a witch hunt and even demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "troubling" the AAP-led Delhi government.

In December 2015, a few months after the AAP stormed into power in Delhi a second time, the CBI searched the office of Kejriwal in connection with corruption charges against his then principal secretary Rajendra Kumar. It had prompted Kejriwal to call Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "coward" and "psychopath".

A few months later, in July 2016, the CBI conducted searches at many locations in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh linked to Kejriwal's principal secretary Rajendra Kumar. Kumar was arrested by the central agency for allegedly providing undue favours to a company.

Kejriwal's nephew Vinay Bansal was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Branch in May 2018 over an alleged scam in the Public Works Department. Bansal was accused of having a 50 per cent stake in a firm that was allegedly involved in financial irregularities in building a drainage system in northwest Delhi.

Friday's CBI raid on Manish Sisodia is not the first for the Delhi deputy chief minister and he had similar run-ins with the federal probe agency. CBI officials had reached Sisodia's house on Mathura Road in Delhi in June 2017 to record his statement over the alleged irregularities in the 'Talk To AK' campaign held in 2016 where Kejriwal answered questions from the people on a wide range of issues such as electricity and water.

Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain is already in judicial custody in a money laundering case. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May this year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on charges of hawala transactions by five shell companies allegedly controlled by him. The ED and CBI had raided Jain's residences and the properties of other people close to him.

In May 2018, CBI searched Jain's residence for alleged irregularities in hiring architects for the Public Works Department (PWD), a portfolio which he helmed for a long time. In June this year, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor forwarded a complaint of BJP MP Manoj Tiwari over the alleged scam in the construction of seven hospitals to the Anti-Corruption Branch for a probe.

Sisodia had termed these allegations as "baseless". Another minister of the Delhi government, Kailash Gahlot, also faced the heat of central agencies in the past.

The Income Tax Department had in October 2018 conducted searches on premises linked to Kailash Gahlot in Delhi and Gurugram in connection with tax evasion worth crores of rupees. Kejriwal had demanded Prime Minister Modi apologise to the people for "constantly troubling" the Delhi government.

Last year, the Centre approved a CBI probe into an alleged scam in the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi Transport Department which is headed by Gahlot. Seizing the opportunity, the BJP launched a scathing attack with Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta and former Union minister Harsh Vardhan dubbing the Kejriwal dispensation as a "looter government".

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