CBI says raids were not made at the Delhi CM's office; BJP lashes out at Kejriwal for his remarks against Modi
New Delhi: Relations between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition hit a new low on Tuesday, after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the office of the principal secretary of Delhi government on allegations of graft.
While Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who took to social media, called it an ‘undeclared emergency’ claiming that he was being targeted by the Prime Minister, several opposition parties rallied around Kejriwal, alleging the raid was an attack on the federal polity, and stalled the functioning of the Rajya Sabha.
Coming in the backdrop of already strained relations with the main opposition Congress party, the latest development could derail the government’s efforts to obtain passage of key legislation—including the constitutional amendment enabling the goods and services tax—through the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.
Both Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, who have a sizeable presence in the upper house of Parliament, spoke out in Kejriwal’s support.
CBI, the nation’s premier investigating agency, denied the chief minister’s office was raided and claimed they were investigating the alleged involvement of Delhi government officials, including principal secretary Rajendra Kumar whose residence was also searched.
Kumar, an Indian Institute of Technology alumnus, is accused of favouring certain companies in awarding government contracts from 2007-2014.
As the incident snowballed into a fresh political confrontation between the government and the opposition, both sides traded allegations.
Questioning the reason for the early morning raid, Kejriwal said, “CBI is going through all my files. What files are they looking for? The file is the DDCA (Delhi and District Cricket Association) file whose President is Arun Jaitley. They were looking for Jaitley's file. They didn’t have any concern over Rajendra's files. You have scared the rest with the CBI but Kejriwal is not scared. My words may be bad, but your actions are worse. You fix your actions, I will apologize for my words."
Kejriwal was referring to his comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter calling him a ‘coward and a psychopath’.
Responding to the allegations made against him by Kejriwal, finance minister Jaitley told reporters: “His (Kejriwal) morning statement appeared to be prima facie incorrect, but evening one seems to be absolute rubbish. And I don’t think I need to respond to rubbish."
CBI denied having conducted a raid in the CM's office. “CBI has registered a case against a senior civil servant of the government of Delhi along with six others on the allegations that he during the period of 2007 to 2014 that they were giving tenders favouring certain private firms. Reports from certain sections claiming that CBI raided the CM's office. CBI denies having searched offices of Delhi CM," said Devpreet Singh, a spokesperson for CBI.
The Rajya Sabha, a house in which the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has no members, saw multiple adjournments as the opposition raised the issue of the raid. Opposition parties including Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM attacked the government for conducting the raid.
TMC also gave notice in the Rajya Sabha under Rule 267 to suspend usual business to immediately take up discussion on the CBI raid.
“The government’s actions outside the House are dictating the agenda inside the House. This is not a party issue. It is about the federal structure of the country," TMC member of Parliament Derek O’Brien said in the Rajya Sabha.
Interestingly along with the TMC, the Delhi government also drew support from the CPM. Bitter rivals otherwise, TMC and CPM are never part of the same cause.
The politburo of the CPM in a statement said: “The CBI raid on the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi is highly condemnable and smacks of a politically motivated act. It is unprecedented that in the name of investigating the accusations against a bureaucrat, the office of the Chief Minister should be sealed and files searched, as alleged by the Chief Minister."
Earlier, replying to the queries raised by the opposition, Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha said: “The chief minister’s office has not been raided. The raid has nothing to do with Arvind Kejriwal or his tenure. There is a corruption case against an officer of Delhi government. The raid is in relation to that officer."
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of “murdering (the) Constitution" and said the elected non-BJP state governments needed to be “saved from this BJP government (at the Centre)".
Raising the issue of disruptions in the house, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is on a two-day visit to Kerala, in Kollam said, “Some have decided that we may have been defeated but we will not let Parliament run. It doesn’t matter what happens to the nation. There are some who are following only one D and that D is disrupt. Their D is destruct, demolish."
The Delhi government and the central government have been in a constant tussle since the AAP government took charge in February, including bureaucratic appointments. Delhi is a special state where matters related to land, law and order come under the central home ministry.
Political analysts say the Delhi government will still need the central government’s support.
“Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t have an option because he knows without the central government’s support he will not be able to deliver on his election promises. The centre is also playing its own politics by raising the development quotient and secondly by undermining the states," said Bidyut Chakraborty, a New Delhi-based political analyst and professor of political science at Delhi University.
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