Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Sanjay Singh on Wednesday, 24 August, alleged that party MLAs in Delhi received threats from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, who told them that if they didn't accept Rs 20 crore and resign from the AAP, they would face the same fate as Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
"The same model which worked on (Eknath) Shinde in Maharashtra, failed on Sisodia but now the BJP is targeting our MLAs," Singh said at a press conference, which was also addressed by four other AAP MLAs.
Sisodia has been named as the prime accused in a First Information Report (FIR) in connection the state's excise policy. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also conducted raids at the residence of the deputy CM on 19 August.
'BJP Leaders Said They Had Been Asked To Break the AAP'
Singh further claimed that BJP leaders had admitted that the case against Sisodia was false.
"After being threatened, AAP MLAs said that the case against Sisodia was false. BJP leaders said they are also aware but this is the tactic," he said.
AAP leader Somnath Bharti also claimed that he was approached by a BJP leader whom he has known for several years. "As I resisted him, he finally got fed up and said BJP will finish the AAP government at any cost," Bharti claimed.
AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha, meanwhile, claimed that he was offered Rs 25 crore if he managed to "take some MLAs with me."
"I asked the BJP leader what will happen if I don't oblige. The BJP leader cited the example of Manish Sisodia," the Burari legislator said.
AAP MLA Kuldeep Kumar similarly claimed to have been approached by a BJP leader, who said that they had been "tasked" with breaking the AAP.
"The BJP leader threatened me that if the CBI can go after Manish Sisodia, then imagine what can happen to you," Kumar alleged.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he has called a meeting of the AAP's political affairs committee to discuss the matter.
"In the last 2-3 days, some AAP MLAs have told me that they are being given threats of CBI and ED, they are being lured with money to leave AAP. This is a very serious issue. We have called a meeting of our political affairs at 4 pm to discuss this," he said.
'AAP is in a State of Panic': BJP's Sambit Patra
The BJP, on the other hand, said that the AAP was in a state of "panic" because of the ongoing case against Sisodia.
"The kind of panic that is being seen in the Aam Aadmi Party for the last few days, there is no doubt that they seem to be cornered," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
He also called Sisodia "corrupt" and claimed that the AAP was trying to "deflect" the BJP's questions on the alleged malpractices in the implementation of the state's excise policy.
"Manish Sisodia ji you cannot escape. Because fighting against corruption and bringing corruption to an end is in the scope of the Constitution of the country. Sisodia ji, you have committed corruption, the evidence is there and investigation is going on," he added.
Patra also alleged that the Delhi government had ignored the recommendations of an expert panel on Delhi's excise policy to "gain an unfair advantage" in the Punjab Assembly elections.
Delhi's Excise Policy and the Case Against Sisodia
The Delhi government's Excise Policy 2021-22, launched on 17 November 2021, was touted to aid the reform of the retail liquor sector, improve consumer experience, and augment revenue by Rs 9,500 crore.
The new policy introduced by the Kejriwal government sought to shut down 600 government-operated shops to pave way for swanky, new, privately-owned shops – marking the exit of the government from selling liquor.
The policy was, however, withdrawn by the Delhi government in July 2022, after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged discrepancies in the policy's implementation.
The LG's decision was based on a report by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, which listed alleged irregularities in the implementation of the policy.
The CBI on 19 August listed 16 accused, including Sisodia, in its FIR on the alleged excise scam, following its 12-hour-long raids at the AAP leader's residence.
The case against the deputy CM has been registered under Indian Penal Code sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.