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On August 19, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted multiple raids at various places connected to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, including his residence . Sisodia, who oversees the excise department, faces charges of corruption in the liquor policy. The charges have been refuted by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) administration. The AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) engaged in a verbal battle as a result of the raids. In connection with an alleged excise scam, raids were conducted in seven states and around 31 places in Delhi-NCR. The investigating agency named 15 suspects, including Sisodia, in a FIR filed in the case. Here are 10 things to know.

LG Saxena’s complaint

After filing a case, the CBI conducted raids at Sisodia's home and 20 other locations. In July, Delhi LG Vinai Kumar Saxena suggested a federal investigation into the excise policy. Saxena filed a complaint with the CBI asking them to investigate a number of processes that were allegedly changed to favour private liquor barons and certain people. The basis for LG Saxena's complaint was a report from the chief secretary dated July 8 that mentioned perks given to private liquor barons "in lieu of financial benefits to individuals at the highest level up to the minister in charge of excise and finance".

Also Read: Delhi: L-G orders the transfer of 12 IAS officers, with immediate effect

CBI raids

In connection with an alleged excise scam, raids were conducted in seven states and around 31 places in Delhi-NCR. The investigating agency named 15 suspects, including Sisodia, in a FIR filed in the case. The raid on Sisodia's home occurred in conjunction with claims that Delhi's excise policy had abnormalities; this occurred as tensions between the two parties were rising as they prepared to compete in the upcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Manish Sisodia on Twitter

The Delhi deputy CM posted a number of tweets on the CBI raids. “We welcome CBI. Will give full cooperation in the investigation so that the truth can come out soon. Till now, many cases have been filed against me but nothing has come out. Nothing will come out of it either. My work cannot be stopped for good education in the country," he wrote.

He also wrote, “These people are troubled by the excellent work of Delhi's education and health. That is why the Health Minister and Education Minister of Delhi have been arrested so that the good work of education health can be stopped. There are false allegations against both of us. The truth will come out in court."

Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter

“The whole world is discussing the education and health model of Delhi. They want to stop it. That is why the raids and arrests on Delhi's health and education ministers. Whoever tried to do good work in 75 years was stopped. That's why India was left behind. Will not let Delhi's good works stop," wrote Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter while defending his deputy.

Who are named in FIR

In addition to Manish Sisodia, former excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, former deputy commissioner Anand Tiwari and Assistant commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar are also named in the FIR. Other names include Manoj Rai (former employee of Pernod Ricard), Amandeep Dhal (Director of Delhi-based Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd), Sameer Mahendru (Managing director of Jor Bagh-based Indospirit Group), Sunny Marwah (Mahadev Liquors) and Buddy Sales and Mahadev Liquors (named as companies).

New York Times

The raids coincided with an article in the New York Times about Delhi’s education reform. Manish Sisodia, the AAP's education minister, and the manner the Delhi government was improving its schools were featured in the NYT piece. The BJP and the AAP are at odds over the piece, with the former claiming that the publication received payment to run the article on the top page. The BJP called it a “paid article".

New York Times article on Manish Sisodia's education reform in Delhi
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New York Times article on Manish Sisodia's education reform in Delhi

“Education is an issue that the NYT has covered over many years. Our report about efforts to improve Delhi's education system is based on impartial, on-the-ground reporting," Nicole Taylor, NYT’s the newspaper's director for external communications, told PTI. “Journalism from the New York Times is always independent, free from political or advertiser influence."

BJP’s allegation on loss of revenue

The BJP has made note of loss of revenue. Excise revenue for the first quarter of the current fiscal 2022–23 was 37.51% less than expected. However, the BJP claimed that there was no drop in sales. Despite there being no decline in sales, the monthly loss due to surrendered liquor zones was estimated at 193.95 crore. The BJP claims that, by waiving the tendering licence fee by 144.36 crore and invoking pandemic closures, AAP "favoured" select merchants. The excise department allegedly amended the methodology for calculating rates of foreign alcohol without authority's consent and abolished the import pass charge, making foreign alcohol less expensive for retail licensees at the expense of the exchequer.

Also Read: Delhi govt appoints Jitendra Agrawal as new deputy commissioner of excise dept

AAP’s defence on loss of revenue

According to AAP, the former LG Anil Baijal "made a U-turn at the last minute" on shops in unapproved colonies, which cost thousands of crores of rupees. Additionally, it states that on November 15, just 48 hours prior to the implementation of the new policy, LG Baijal returned the file, stating that the Delhi government must first obtain approval from the DDA and MCD before permitting liquor stores in unapproved colonies. The AAP noted that approximately 300–350 shops that were initially intended to be established in unapproved colonies were unable to do so.

BJP’s allegation on AAP’s favouritism

According to the BJP, the regulation was incorrectly changed, allowing producers to obtain retail licence while the excise agency assisted "cartelization." Furthermore, it claims that contracts went to businesses on the blacklist.

Also Read: Delhi excise dept in for overhaul due to many vacancies after suspension of officials

AAP’s defence on favouritism

The AAP claims that when it was discovered that the former LG was responsible for the corruption, the BJP underwent a dramatic change of heart. While it accuses the BJP of being responsible for the scandal, the party says it has previously requested an investigation against the former LG.

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