Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal arrested over corruption claims | Elections News

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Kejriwal is a key leader in an opposition alliance challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in elections next month.

Delhi Chief Minister and prominent opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal has been arrested by India’s financial crime agency in connection with corruption allegations related to the city’s liquor policy, his party has said.

The arrest of Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday means the main leaders of the decade-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are in jail, following the arrests last year of two of Kejriwal’s deputies in the same case, which the party has called “dirty politics”.

Atishi Singh, Delhi’s finance minister, rejected the allegations and said that the AAP was seeking to quash the latest arrest.

“We have asked for an urgent hearing by the Supreme Court tonight itself,” she said.

Kejriwal will continue to be Delhi’s chief minister while the party fights the accusations, Singh said.

She described his arrest as a “political conspiracy” orchestrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The financial crime agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), is investigating allegations that a liquor policy implemented by the Delhi government in 2022, which ended its control over the sale of liquor in the capital, gave undue advantages to private retailers.

Kejriwal’s administration’s controversial policy ended a government monopoly on the sale of liquor.

The policy has since been withdrawn.

The AAP has said no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged in the investigation and Kejriwal has previously said that if he is corrupt, “then there is no one in this world who is honest”.

He will be presented before a court on Friday where the charges against him will be made public, local media reported.

The ED had issued nine summons to Kejriwal for questioning but he did not answer them, saying that he feared he would be arrested.

He also sought protection from arrest from court, saying his party would be weakened in elections if that were to happen.

Virendra Sachdeva, the head of the BJP’s Delhi office, said Kejriwal had been “making excuses” to avoid explaining his role in the case.

“The kind of political theatrics he was doing has been put to an end today,” Sachdeva said. “Today, finally the truth has won.”

Kejriwal’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, told the court on Thursday that the agency was being misused by the Modi government to weaken his party in the run-up to India’s national elections.

Opposition parties expressed concern over the incident, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who said, “The arrest of elected Chief Ministers has become a common thing.”

AAP is part of the 27-party “INDIA” bloc, an opposition alliance that hopes to challenge Modi’s BJP in national elections beginning April

Kejriwal founded the AAP, Hindi for “common man’s party”, in 2011.

His supporters protested outside his residence and clashed with security forces as news of his arrest broke.

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