In a significant setback for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested their Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Singh, in connection with a money laundering case linked to the investigation into the Delhi liquor policy. The arrest comes after a nine-hour-long search operation at Sanjay Singh’s Delhi residence, which commenced early on Wednesday morning.
Why was Sanjay Singh arrested?
This development marks the third major arrest of a prominent AAP member, following the arrests of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain in May of the previous year and former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in February of this year, both on charges related to money laundering in connection with the liquor policy.
The raids on Sanjay Singh’s residence were initiated following allegations made by businessman Dinesh Arora, an accused in the case, who later turned approver. Mr. Arora claimed that Sanjay Singh had introduced him to Manish Sisodia, who was serving as the excise minister at the time.
The search operation at the residence of the Rajya Sabha MP began early in the morning and continued for several hours. AAP supporters gathered at his house, protesting against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and denouncing what they perceived as the misuse of government agencies for political purposes.
Sanjay Singh has been taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate and is expected to provide a statement regarding the allegations. He is likely to be produced in court on Thursday afternoon, where the agency is anticipated to seek his custody for further investigation.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal voiced his support for his colleague Sanjay Singh while the raids were being conducted. Without naming the BJP directly, Kejriwal accused the party of engaging in desperate attempts to derail their political rivals ahead of the upcoming general elections.
Raghav Chadha, another prominent AAP member, echoed similar sentiments and directly criticized the BJP, stating, “They have been investigating the case for 15 months but have not been able to unearth even a single rupee of illegal money. So much time and so many resources have been expended, but they haven’t been able to prove anything. This is just a political vendetta. The BJP knows it is losing.”
It’s worth noting that the Enforcement Directorate had not previously named Sanjay Singh as an accused nor summoned him to record his statement in connection with the liquor policy case. Months prior to his arrest, Singh had posted a photo on social media standing next to posters outside his home, sarcastically “welcoming” the Enforcement Directorate to his “poor house.”
Sanjay Singh’s father, Dinesh Singh, expressed the family’s cooperation with the authorities during the search and expressed confidence in the truth prevailing. “I told Sanjay not to worry and that the truth will win. We are not worried about his arrest,” he remarked.
What is the Liquor policy?
The liquor policy case has been a contentious issue, subject to investigation by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate. The policy, introduced in November 2021, saw the government withdrawing from the retail sale of liquor and allowing private licensees to operate liquor stores. In July 2022, Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar raised concerns about gross violations in the policy and alleged “undue benefits” being conferred upon liquor licensees.
The liquor policy and allegations of corruption surrounding it have been at the center of numerous conflicts between the AAP and the BJP, as well as between the Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena and the Delhi government.
In conclusion, the arrest of AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Singh, in connection with the money laundering case related to the Delhi liquor policy, represents a significant development in the ongoing investigations surrounding the policy. The arrest follows the apprehension of other prominent AAP members, fueling political tensions in the lead-up to the upcoming general elections.
The AAP has strongly criticized the BJP, alleging political vendetta and characterizing the arrests as desperate attempts to tarnish their image. As the legal proceedings unfold, the implications of these arrests on the political landscape remain to be seen.