“Hum to rajneeti badalne aaye hain ji.” These were the words of Arvind Kejriwal when he first announced the formation of Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012. Aam Aadmi Party can be credited for being the only party to survive in the changing political dynamics of India. AAP matured during the Modi era and emerged as a party of national prominence. AAP leaders can be heard claiming that they have successfully risen to the place of the ‘viable’ opposition, thus proposing to replace the shrinking Congress.
When Arvind Kejriwal started playing at the front foot, he made lofty claims about the practices of his party as well as the leaders including himself. He immediately became the salesman of the dreams of a corruption free government. His freebies’ politics gained him popularity. He accused every political party of India of wrongdoings and presented himself as the lotus, blooming in the dirt of Indian politics. However, the ditch he dug for others is now ready to engulf his own party, and the liquor scam has marked the beginning of it all.
Liquor Scam that unveiled the immandari mask
The Delhi government floated a new liquor policy in 2020, which was implemented in November 2021. This new policy overhauled the system under which alcohol was sold in Delhi, assigning each ward with 2-3 liquor vends.
This new liquor policy made the government’s exit possible from selling alcohol and the operations were solely handed over to the private players. This facilitated home delivery and allowed the opening of liquor shops till 3 AM. This also allowed the sellers to offer unlimited discounts, thus ending the system of selling alcohol at MRP mandated by the government.
Scrutiny began when several irregularities were reported over the new liquor policy. It was discovered that undue benefits were being extended to private players, causing huge losses to the government exchequer.
The chief secretary, Naresh Kumar had prepared a report and sought Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s response, as the Excise portfolio was being handled by Sisodia. Following this, the Delhi LG Saxena ordered a CBI probe in July, after which the Kejriwal government reversed the new liquor policy.
CBI conducted multiple raids on Manish Sisodia, excise officials and private beneficiaries. Sisodia was accused of waiving off Rs 144.36 crores on licence fees, which was to be paid by the private liquor vendors. Import pass fee was removed and licences were issued illegally in exchange of bribes.
More than 15 persons have been booked in the case. As per the CBI, Manish Sisodia’s close aides Amit Arora, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey were actively involved in managing and diverting the bribe money collected from Liquor Licensees to accused public servants.
CBI arrests Vijay Nair, ED arrests Sameer Mahendru
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested Sameer Mahendru, a liquor trader who was among the accused in the Delhi liquor scam case. According to the FIR, at least two payments running into crores were made to Sisodia’s ‘close associates’ by Sameer Mahendru.
CBI FIR also states that Mahendru transferred an amount of Rs 1 crore to Radha Industries managed by Dinesh Arora, who has his allegiance with Sisodia. Arjun Pandey, another close aide of Sisodia, collected Rs 2 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair said the CBI.
The next big name who was arrested on Tuesday is Vijay Nair, who was currently associated with the AAP as communication in-charge. Nair has been accused of taking bribes from liquor firm owners. Nair associated with AAP in 2014 and gradually rose to prominence. As per Indian Express, he is among the top tier of leaders in the party.
Let’s have a look at Vijay Nair’s career before AAP. He was the CEO of a Mumbai based company ‘Only Much Louder’, which handled entertainment and event management.
In 2014, Nair was heading a business worth $10 million. He was enjoying a directorial level position in at least 6 companies. This implies that he is a businessman who might have become a part of the liquor nexus to fill his big pockets.
The allegations of sexual misconduct against female employees of the OML, where he was the CEO once again proves him to be a rich and spoiled man whose brain has been infested with money and greed. The people loyal to money just identify money.
He saw benefit in the nexus, he became a part of it and must have earned a huge sum. Now he might find benefit in turning a state witness and expose the Sisodia nexus, thus ensuring his own safety. The ones arrested are businessmen and no history sheeters. Thus, it would not be tough for the investigative agencies to get his confession.
To add on, it is very important for the agencies to protect these people, especially Vijay Nair, so that he doesn’t turn into another liquor baron Ponty Chaddha, who along with him took away many dark secrets of Samajwadi Party and the BSP.
Manish Sisodia- The next in line
The FIR mentions 15 people and the first one arrested was Vijay Nair. Following his arrest, Mahendru was arrested and the agencies don’t seem to be in any mood of taking a break. They are on a spree and the Aam Aadmi Party has itself said that Manish Sisodia could be arrested next.
The party said, “First Satyendra Jain, then Amanatullah Khan, now Vijay Nair. Next, they will arrest Manish Sisodia..”
This probably suggests that the party itself is aware of the involvement of Manish Sisodia in corruption cases. Well, with how the matter is being probed, it appears as if this time Sisodia won’t have any escape from scrutiny, ultimately exposing the Aam Aadmi Party.
What will happen with Sisodia’s arrest? Well, Sisodia’s arrest in the probe may mark the end for the Aam Aadmi Party. As Arvind Kejriwal who claims himself to be the face of AAP is a ‘CM with no portfolio’. And Manish Sisodia, the deputy has done most of the heavy lifting. He handles around 19 portfolios that involve the most crucial ones like Finance, Tourism, Education, Women and Child, Land and Building among others.
Sisodia is the man who gets almost all the work done in Delhi. All the projects of the Kejriwal government have Sisodia’s fingerprints over them. With Sisodia behind bars, there would be no future for the Aam Aadmi Party.
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