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Sisodia’s wish to be arrested will be granted soon, says BJP’s Delhi in-charge Baijayant Panda

The BJP has been trying to corner AAP over corruption allegations against Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who has been accused of framing an excise policy to benefit a select few.

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New Delhi: As the furore over an alleged liquor scam in Delhi refuses to die down, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi in-charge Baijayant Jay Panda said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s wish to be arrested “will soon be fulfilled”. 

“Ministers can give themselves clean chits [all they want]. Investigations have a process that has to be followed. Contrary to the image that some people try to spin, there is no witch-hunting. There is no misuse of any of these authorities,” Panda, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, told ThePrint.

He was speaking about allegations of irregularities in Delhi’s now withdrawn liquor policy. Sisodia has been accused of framing an excise policy to benefit a select few — an allegation that both he and his party, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party, have denied. 

“The reality is that evidence has to be corroborated, evidence has to be backed up, and that is being done,” Panda told ThePrint. “And you know, if he has such a great wish to get arrested, I’m sure that wish will be fulfilled soon.”

Panda’s remarks come as the BJP tries to corner AAP — a party whose major poll plank has always been clean governance — on the corruption allegations. On 6 September, AAP claimed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had given the party a clean chit. 

On 15 September, Sisodia had asked the BJP to share an alleged sting in connection with the case with the CBI and challenged the agency to arrest him if the allegations were true. 

The BJP, which released the video, claims that it shows a person named in the First Information Report in the case saying that the Delhi government deliberately kept smaller players out of its “tailormade” excise policy to help some people. 

Panda, who’s also in charge of the party’s affairs in Assam, spoke to ThePrint over a host of other issues, such as the Assam government’s action against madrasas over “terror links” and AAP as a possible alternative to the BJP on the national level. 


Also Read: As AAP threat looms, Gujarat BJP plans to use ‘aides’ of potential rebels to help prevent revolt


‘Giving themselves clean chit’

Panda claimed Manish Sisodia’s party had become “experts” at giving themselves clean chits and have been trying to “fool people for many years”. 

“How come liquor vends were allowed in buildings where the zoning law says no? How come blacklisted companies were allowed to take over the liquor business in Delhi? [Companies] blacklisted by the Delhi government,” he said. 

“The ministers can give themselves clean chits. But you know another minister who used to take the same stance has been in jail for months and the courts are not giving them bail,” Panda added, referring to AAP minister Satyendar Jain, who’s currently in Tihar jail over money laundering allegations.

Madrasas in Assam and demolition drive 

Panda dismissed opposition allegations that a particular community is being targeted in Assam. 

“Nobody should be able to misuse a place of religious education to foster separatism and terrorism. Now, unfortunately, some such places have been misused in Assam. [With] some of these people, their direct links have been exposed to terrorists — two organisations which have targeted India and have carried out attacks,” he said, defending the Assam government’s action against madrasas. Assam has a BJP government under Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. 

On 1 September, a madrasa in Assam’s Bongaigaon district was demolished by the district administration — a development that came days after one of its teachers was arrested for his alleged terror links. 

Similar demolitions took place in Barpeta and Morigaon districts on 29 August and 4 August.

Panda, however, qualified his remarks — the instances don’t speak about the community as a whole, he told ThePrint. 

“It’s these specific places, these specific individuals who have done it. That shouldn’t be misread as being against the community,” he said. 

Action must be taken where there’s clear-cut evidence against “these kinds of organisations”, he said. “It’s against the state. It’s against the Constitution,” he said. 

AAP’s growing popularity

For the BJP, AAP’s growing popularity has set the alarm bells ringing. Arvind Kejriwal’s party, which contested its first election in 2013, has won the Delhi assembly elections with a decisive majority twice — first in 2015 (67 of 70 assembly seats), and then in 2020 (62 seats). It went on to sweep Punjab in 2022 with 92 of the assembly’s 117 seats and is contesting the Gujarat and Himachal Assembly elections later this year. 

Kejriwal has been touring both states and is confident of doing well. 

Does AAP’s growing popularity bother the BJP? No, according to Panda.

“BJP hasn’t accidentally become the world’s largest political party. It has worked over four generations through world-renowned leadership. Our current leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly gets acknowledged as the most popular leader in the world. He has taken India to the world stage with much more influence with much more acceptance than ever before,” he said. 

As for AAP, he claimed it was a party built on “lie after lie after lie after lie”.

“And that is not sustainable at some point. All those lies have to get exposed and they are getting exposed,” said Panda. 

The BJP, Panda said, has won elections repeatedly and has a “very strong base at the local level”.

“This current government, it has resorted to the kind of wanton freebies. The same kind of policies that has led to Sri Lanka’s collapse, the same kind of policies that [has led] many other countries [to face] dire situations. They don’t care about the future of Delhi. They don’t care about the future of Delhi citizens,” he told ThePrint.

“They want to misuse the authority that they have in the state government for keeping themselves in power. So we’ll counter that and we’ll counter that with proper policies, helping people where help is genuinely needed. But not wantonly misusing state government finances to win elections like they have been doing,” said Panda.

Both BJP and AAP have been sparring over freebies.

Panda also accused AAP of “misusing state policies ad state coffers” for municipal elections.

The BJP isn’t scared, he told ThePrint.

“Look at our position. Look at the vote share,” he said. “Yes, we may have lost the state election the last time but our vote share kept increasing. And we have won all seven seats in the Lok Sabha in Delhi,” Panda said, refuting AAP’s allegations that the BJP didn’t want to hold municipal elections for the fear of losing.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


Also Read: BJP targets ‘AAP CM face’ Medha Patkar in Gujarat, AAP says it’s ‘like saying BJP’s PM pick is Sonia’


 

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