The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has broken all records of amassing illegal assets and spreading corruption, the Delhi BJP has said, escalating a war of words with the ruling AAP following the CBI’s decision to launch a preliminary inquiry into the alleged lapses in the spending of Rs 45 crore in the reconstruction of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence in Civil Lines area in north Delhi.
The AAP slammed the federal probe agency and the Narendra Modi government for victimising Kejriwal as he is seen as a threat to the PM’s popularity. Kejriwal sounded combative and targeted Modi for trying to scare him. “I will not bow before them. They have filed more than 33 inquiries against me and yet they have not been able to find any wrongdoing. This inquiry will also fail to find anything against me,” said the Chief Minister.
The CBI has sought documents from the Public Works Department over the expenditure of Rs 45 crore on the CM’s house, including Rs 11.30 crore on interior expenditure, Rs 6.02 crore on stone and marble flooring, Rs 2.58 crore on electrical fittings and appliances, Rs 1.41 crore on wardrobe and accessories, Rs 1.1 crore on kitchen appliance and Rs 8.11 crore on the CM’s camp office. The probe agency has asked the PWD, the Delhi government agency which undertook the reconstruction work, to share with it documents related to details of expenses on the project.
Northeast Delhi’s MP and former Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari led the BJP’s charge against the AAP and described Kejriwal’s reconstructed house as a “raj mahal”. “There is no party other than the AAP which has set a record in corruption in the shortest period after coming into existence,” he said. Welcoming the CBI inquiry against Kejriwal, he said, “To loot the common man or aam aadmi, he has used the name Aam Aadmi in his party.” “We have been repeatedly saying that the scams that have taken place in the city are all taking place at the behest of Kejriwal,” Tiwari said, claiming that Kejriwal yearns for a lavish lifestyle and his deceptive facade of being a common man has been shattered by the CBI move. The Kejriwal government is a government of criminals, run by criminals, in the style of criminals, he said. Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said the CBI probe would expose the conspiracy behind the wastage of public money. “On whose instructions did the PWD float small tenders for the construction that was carried out without the sanction from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi?” he asked.
The AAP hit back at the BJP for victimising Kejriwal and tarnishing his image before the Assembly elections in the Hindi belt. “So far many cases have been filed against Kejriwal, and investigations have been carried out. Nothing was found. Nothing will be found in this case either,” the party said.
One AAP leader said such dirty tricks will prove counter-productive for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections. “The voters will sympathise with Kejriwal over his harassment by the central government-controlled agencies and support the AAP in large numbers.”
While Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely claimed that the law is taking its course in the matter, it would be interesting to note that it was his party colleague and former Union minister Ajay Maken who had earlier written to the LG pointing toward the various violations in the construction work.
The CBI’s preliminary inquiry will shed light on the need, if at all, for filing an FIR in the matter and arresting anyone. There is a strong possibility that the outcome of the case may not be known before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections , but the issue will give an alleged corruption handle to rival parties to hit the AAP during campaign.
The CBI’s PE follows a letter written by Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena to the Ministry of Home Affairs in May, recommending a probe by a specialised agency into the matter. This was preceded by a report by Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar which said there were prima facie irregularities in the renovation work. Interestingly, the CBI has not used the term “renovation” for the work in its communication with the PWD, but described it as the “construction of new residential building”.