AAP’s reaction to the arrival of CBI at Satyender Jain’s residence, the second such visit to a senior AAP leader’s home in the past week, was met by the now familiar cries of political vendetta by Delhi’s ruling party.
The CBI said that they had sought time from Poonam Jain, the AAP minister’s wife and were simply seeking clarifications – something they had also claimed last Friday when they spoke to Manish Sisodia. In response, Saurabh Bhardwaj, the AAP spokesperson once again maintained that the “narrative being propagated” by the BJP was based on “imaginary characters and incidents”. Bhardwaj, like other AAP leaders before him, dismissed the allegations.
Another AAP leader added, “In both cases, whether it’s pertaining to Jain or Sisodia, the agency isn’t really investigating us. These aren’t raids, they are questions being asked in a preliminary enquiry. There is no criminality in either instance. But there is enough drama. That is how they are propagating the narrative.”
Consider this: Sisodia was linked in a case for which in January 2017, the CBI registered a PE in connection with alleged irregularities in the ‘Talk to AK’. Another PE was initiated in April 2017, after the IT department referred a case of alleged money laundering against the new Benamy Transactions Prohibitions Act. Apart from this, the Delhi ACB has lodged cases against former CM Sheila Dikshit and Arvind Kejriwal. There is also the case of alleged corruption against Rajinder Kumar, IAS officer and formerly the principal secretary to CM Kejriwal. In addition to all this, 21 AAP MLAs appointed as parliamentary secretaries by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are facing disqualification in an office of profit case.
AAP maintains that all of these cases are “fake”, “without basis” and are being done to destabilize the government. True or not, officials cite “due process”. And while AAP’s claim that there is no criminality could be true, insiders admit that the plethora of cases against them is hurting them politically.
“The aim of the BJP is to break the AAP from within. None of our MLAs are what other political parties would call, seasoned politicians. These cases, the harassment, is scaring them and preventing them from doing work. Moreover, our officials are not keen to work because they saw what happened to Rajinder Kumar. Finally, the people of Delhi and other parts of the country are not concerned with the technicalities of a PE, what it means or its implications. They see the CBI coming up to the doors of AAP leaders. After all, we are the party that is bound by our anti-corruption platform.”
And that is where the party is being hurt the most. Unlike other parties, like the BJP or the Left, AAP is not bound together by a common ideology. On different occasions in the past four years, the AAP leadership has maintained that their image, of being corruption free is what keeps them together. However, as far as the BJP and the Congress are concerned, that image has already been tarnished.