In the wake of CBI raids on Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others suspects of involvement in the liquor licensing scam, the main accused and his boss, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have begun showering wholesome praise on each other. The national convenor of AAP Arvind Kejriwal embarked on a two-day visit to poll-bound Gujarat from today, accompanying his deputy in his fifth visit to the state in less than a month, saying Sisodia deserved a Bharat Ratna for transforming the education system of the capital. The deputy returned the favour to his boss, saying he had got an offer from the BJP to be chief minister, but he would never betray his chief.
Sisodia, in the eye of a political storm over corruption allegations, today doubled down on his sensational claims against the BJP. "I got a message. It had two parts. One said that all CBI and ED cases against me will be shut down. The other part asked me to leave AAP and join the BJP, and they'll make me a Chief Minister candidate since BJP has no CM candidate in Delhi. All of these cases are false. I'm with Kejriwal because I am honest," he said at a press conference in Ahmedabad.
The deputy chief minister of Delhi said that those who messaged him said they got Suvendu Adhikari, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Jayant Panda to join the BJP and asked him to trust them. Calling Arvind Kejriwal, his political guru, he said he would never betray him. Kejriwal "is my political guru, I will never betray him. I did not come here to become chief minister; my dream is — every child of the country should get a good education, and only then India will become the number 1 country. Only Kejriwal ji can do this work in the whole country," Sisodia said.
“All this matter (the excise policy probe) has been raised to stop Kejriwal ji from working. Especially because he has stirred a new hope in Gujarat. I was surprised when I got messages. In the messages, I got two offers – that if you split AAP, all CBI and ED cases would be dropped. And that I would be made the chief minister.”
Earlier in the day, the BJP had rebuffed Sisodia's allegations that he was asked to split the AAP.
The AAP has, in a way, launched its campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Kejriwal extols Sisodia
Kejriwal, with his deputy by his side, slammed the BJP for "harassing" his party leaders. "The man who showed us a miracle by making quality government schools has been raided by CBI. Are you not ashamed? Such a man should be given the Bharat Ratna. He should be consulted for education. Everybody in the country is upset over what happened," he said, backing his deputy.
"If given an opportunity, we would be able to bring a revolution in Delhi schools just like we did in the national capital. It won't take us 27 years," the Delhi deputy chief minister said.
"Manish Sisodia may be arrested, who knows I may also be arrested; all this is being done for Gujarat elections," Kejriwal said. Party sources said raids on Sisodia would figure prominently in campaigns to counter the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections in BJP-ruled Gujarat. "The CBI action against Sisodia has turned the public sentiment in our favour and we will go big with this issue during our campaigns because he has a very clean image," party sources earlier said.
"On Monday, Manish ji and I will go to Gujarat for two days to guarantee education and health. Like Delhi, Gujarat will also have good schools, good hospitals and Mohalla clinics. Everyone will get free good quality education and good healthcare treatment. People will be relieved, we will also interact with youth," Kejriwal said in a tweet.
The CBI on 19 August carried out searches at 31 places including Sisodia's residence and the premises of some bureaucrats. Top leaders from both AAP and BJP have been addressing press conferences accusing each other of corruption. AAP alleges that cases against Sisodia and other leaders are cooked up because the BJP fears the popularity of the party and its chief Arvind Kejriwal.
During an earlier visit to north Gujarat, Kejriwal made several promises to the people of Gujarat including providing free electricity supply and improving healthcare services in the state. He has also already promised free education in the state and auditing of private schools if his party is voted to power. AAP has also announced 10 lakh jobs for the youth of the state and an employment guarantee scheme, in addition to announcing monthly allowances for women. Arvind Kejriwal has reached out to the tribal community as well by announcing several welfare measures.
In the last assembly election in Gujarat, all of AAP's 29 candidates lost their deposits. AAP's Gujarat hope has been fuelled by its performance in the February 2021 Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) polls in which the BJP won 93 seats, while the AAP bagged 27 seats.