A day after being raided by the CBI over alleged irregularities in the excise policy, Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia claimed the BJP government is scared of Arvind Kejriwal who is emerging as a "national alternative" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The 2024 Lok Sabha polls will be a battle between Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It will be AAP vs BJP," Sisodia said, alleging that the raids were a ploy to stop AAP chief Kejriwal's rise.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, the deputy chief minister said that in the next 3-4 days, CBI or ED may arrest him, but, "I want to tell them we are not scared, we are followers of Bhagat Singh."
Sisodia said the BJP was not concerned about corruption but was targeting Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, whose work on education and health was being talked about in the world, and that is why Satyendar Jain was arrested.
The AAP leader said the people of the country were fed up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "use of CBI and ED for toppling opposition governments and wanted to give a chance to Kejriwal in 2024".
After Sisodia''s allegations, the BJP hit back, alleging that Kejriwal was the "kingpin" in the "liquor scam" after the CBI named his deputy an accused in the case.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur accused the Aam Aadmi Party of trying to divert the issue from the alleged scam by linking the CBI action to politics as its "real face has been unmasked".
The CBI on Friday carried out searches at the residences of Sisodia and IAS officer Arava Gopi Krishna apart from 19 other locations after registering an FIR in connection with the alleged corruption in the implementation of the Delhi excise policy 2021, officials said.
Sisodia is one of the 15 persons named by the CBI in the FIR.
At the press conference, the deputy chief minister claimed that the raids are part of the "script to stop Kejriwal who has emerged as a national alternative".
"They are not concerned about any scam in the excise policy. They are scared of Kejriwal who has gained the love of people, specially after the party's victory in Punjab assembly elections," he said.
"They first arrested Satyendar Jain who was holding the charge of the health portfolio and I will also be arrested in the next couple of days," he claimed.
Delhi's health minister Jain was arrested in May by the Enforcement Directorate on money laundering charges.
Talking about the CBI raid at his residence on Friday, the AAP leader said he wanted to thank the agency officers for not causing any inconvenience to his family.
They are good officers but they have orders from above to carry out raids, Sisodia said during a media briefing.
Sisodia said the Excise Policy 2021-22 was the "best" in the country, and there was "no wrongdoing" in its implementation.
He said the raids were an attempt to scare AAP dispensation.
"This is not befitting of a prime minister who has got the people's mandate. The difference between Kejriwal and Modi is that the former thinks about poor people and the latter thinks about his select friends.
"Kejriwal appreciates those who do good work but Modi only dreams of making state governments fall and using central agencies like CBI and ED to target those who are doing good," he said.
The talk about a scam in the excise policy is "nonsense", he claimed.
Showing the CBI FIR, Sisodia claimed the agency citing sources had mentioned in it that there was a "scam" of just Rs one crore and added "where is the scam of Rs 8000 crore that BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had alleged while another leader had said it was worth Rs 1100 crore."
The real issue is "stopping Arvind Kejriwal", they are not worried about a scam in excise policy, he charged
"If their concern was a scam in excise policy, then the whole CBI and ED should be visiting Gujarat where hooch tragedy happened and where Rs 10,000 crore excise tax evasion is happening," Sisodia blamed.
Sisodia also blamed former LG Anil Baijal of changing his stand over the opening of liquor vends in non-conforming areas, just two days before its implementation of the policy on November 17, 2021.
"Had the former LG not changed his stand and blocked the opening of liquor vends in nonconforming areas, the policy would be earning an annual revenue of Rs 10,000 crore.," he blamed.
Sisodia also highlighted a front-page story in New York Times on Delhi's education model saying it filled every Indian with pride.
He congratulated the Delhi government school teachers, saying it was due to their hard work.
"A year ago there was also a front-page story in the NYT showing bodies of Covid-19 victims on the banks of the Ganga that had made us feel ashamed over the failure of governance and management of the pandemic," he said.
(With PTI inputs)