Political war as Kejriwal alleges CBI raid, government denies (Afternoon Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Opposition parties took on the government on Tuesday after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the CBI raided his office over corruption charges against his secretary. The CBI said it seized cash from the officer’s house while a furious Kejriwal dubbed Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a coward and a psychopath”.

Targeting secretary Rajendra Kumar, CBI officials swooped on Kejriwal’s office at the Delhi Secretariat over a 2002 corruption case, triggering a string of angry responses from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader who took office in February 2015.

The CBI later said it had seized Rs.2.4 lakh and documents related to three immovable properties from Kumar’s official residence and that he was not cooperating in opening his email accounts.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley denied CBI raided Kejriwal and said the target was the officer who was attached to his office. The AAP called this a lie.

Jaitley said that the raid had nothing to do with Kejriwal and that it was related to a matter “prior to his becoming chief minister”.

But Kejriwal insisted the CBI raided his office — a claim refuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation — and said: “When Modi couldn’t handle me politically, he resorts to this cowardice.”

The CBI said a case had been registered against Kumar for alleged abuse of office to favour a firm over the last few years in getting tenders from Delhi government departments.

It said it acted on allegations made by Delhi Dialogue Commission member A.K. Joshi.

Kejriwal retorted: “CBI is lying. My own office raided. Files of CM office are being looked into. Let Modi say which file he wants?”

Referring to the October 9 sacking of Food Minister Asim Ahmed Khan, he said: “I am the only CM who dismissed, on my own, a minister and a senior officer on charges of corruption and handed their cases to the CBI.

“If CBI had any evidence against (Kumar), why didn’t they share it with me? I would have acted against him.”

Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said Modi had nothing to do with the raids, which took place at 14 locations in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

“CBI is an independent organisation… It has become fashionable for the Delhi chief minister to quarrel with the central government and take the PM’s name for everything.”

The government’s argument had few takers in parliament, whose opposition parties created a storm.

The CPI-M said the raid is “highly condemnable” and “politically motivated”.

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.

“This raid is a new low in the Modi government’s encroachment on the rights and dignity of non-BJP elected governments.”

Left, Trinamool Congress and Janata Dal-United members were most vociferous in their condemnation of the CBI. Trinamool members shouted slogans against the Modi government.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was “shocked”. Kejriwal responded: “Mamata Di, This is undeclared Emergency.” The JD-U’s K.C. Tyagi described the raid as an act of cowardice.

AAP spokesperson Ashutosh was livid: “Raiding CM’s office without informing the CM is an act of cowardice.” He called it vendetta politics.

His colleague Atishi Marlena added: “This has to be a historic low in Indian politics. Absolutely shameful politics.”

The AAP, India’s youngest political party, swept the Delhi assembly polls in February, winning 67 of the 70 seats. The BJP was left with just three seats.

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