The case revolves around accusations that the AAP government’s revamped alcohol sales policy led to kickbacks from cartels, funneling funds into poll expenses in Goa and other states.

Arvind Kejriwal

Both the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) assert that the policy facilitated cartelization and favored specific dealers who paid bribes for liquor sale licenses.

AAP’s Defense
The AAP strongly denies all charges, highlighting a 27% increase in income and Rs 8,900 crore in revenue generated by the Delhi government from the policy. The party accuses the BJP of manipulating agencies for political targeting.

Key Figures
Arvind Kejriwal’s former deputy, Manish Sisodia, and AAP leader MP Sanjay Singh are in jail in connection with the case.

How it began
The Delhi government introduced a new liquor policy in November 2021, shifting from government outlets to private sellers. The policy aimed to curb black marketing, boost revenue, and benefit customers.

The new policy allowed liquor stores to stay open even after midnight and sellers to give any discounts with no limit. Many private liquor stores saw their sales increase and the Delhi government claimed a 27 per cent rise in collections.

Opposition Criticism
The BJP criticized the policy, accusing the Kejriwal government of promoting “liquor culture” and citing an increase in liquor stores in residential areas.

First Sign of Trouble
Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in a report in July 2022 alleged he found many rule violations in the new liquor policy. Mr Kumar alleged the Kejriwal government’s liquor policy gave “undue benefits” to sellers. The Chief Secretary pointed out a Rs144 crore rebate in liquor licence fee during the Covid pandemic.

Following this report, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the matter. This sharpened the BJP attack on the AAP-led government. The ruling party trashed the allegations. Soon after, the Delhi government withdrew the new liquor policy. This caused more than 400 newly opened stores to shut down shutters. Sale of liquor was back under government control till a new policy was put into place.

The Investigation
The CBI in August 2022 raided the home of Mr Sisodia. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also joined the probe to investigate the money trail. The ED case was based on a first information report (FIR) filed by the CBI against Mr Sisodia and 14 others.

The probe agencies alleged the involvement of a “South Group”. This alleged group comprised K Kavitha, leader of Bharatiya Rastra Samithi and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao; YSRCP MP M Srinivasulu Reddy and Sarath Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma. The ED alleged that the “South Group” and AAP had an arrangement under which the former gave funds to the AAP for its Goa election campaign. The “South Group” was to recover this money through liquor businesses it controls in Delhi, the ED alleged. The AAP was accused of favoring these liquor networks while giving out licenses under the new policy.

Mokokchung Times Explainer

MTNews Desk

(With inputs from agencies)

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