Delhi Cops On Alert For Rival AAP, BJP Protests Over Arvind Kejriwal Summons

The AAP vs BJP political row is set to explode (again) after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Friday morning that he plans to skip a fifth summons from the Enforcement Directorate, leaving himself open to arrest. The AAP boss was called for questioning over the liquor policy case, but will instead protest Tuesday’s Chandigarh mayoral election, which the BJP won under contentious circumstances.

Security in and around the Chief Minister’s residence, and the AAP and BJP HQs, has been tightened in anticipation of protests and counter-protests, which will see Mr Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart, Bhagwant Mann, take to national capital’s streets together. So far 25 AAP workers have been detained at the Delhi-Punjab-Haryana border, with visuals from news agency ANI showing barricades and police checking cars coming into the national capital. There are also reports of detentions in other areas.

Delhi Police has detained 25 AAP workers from Singhu border so far. All of them are the party workers from Punjab and Haryana. Police suspect that they were going to take part in the party’s protest today. A few other workers have been stopped. Those who have been detained at the…

— ANI (@ANI) February 2, 2024

Visuals earlier today showed massive traffic jams on major roads around the AAP office on the city’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Road. Over a thousand police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) M Harsha Vardhan, said, “We are all set to ensure no law-and-order situation arises, and everything goes smoothly. We have taken all necessary measures…”

AAP, BJP Squabble On X

As Delhi Police preps for what could be a violent Friday, the two parties’ leaders have already exchanged opening barbs on X (formerly Twitter).

Delhi Education Minister Atishi this morning claimed “fraud” had been committed openly in the Chandigarh election and taunted the BJP for being “so scared” of her party.

“Heavy barricades all across Delhi, buses full of volunteers being detained, hundreds of para-military forces outside AAP office – why is BJP so scared of a protest on Chandigarh mayor elections?”

पहले चंडीगढ़ मेयर चुनाव में वोट चोरी किए।

अब इसके ख़िलाफ़ शांतिपूर्ण प्रदर्शन करने आ रही जनता को जगह जगह दिल्ली भर में रोका जा रहा है

— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 2, 2024

Mr Kejriwal re-posted her tweet and claimed votes (in that poll) had been “stolen”. “Now people coming to protest peacefully against this are being stopped at various places across Delhi,” he said.

Saurabh Bharadwaj, the Health Minister, also accused the BJP of committing fraud.

“The nation knows how BJP committed fraud in Chandigarh. Ahead of this protest, our MLAs, councillors and party workers are being detained. Is BJP so scared of Arvind Kejriwal…?”

#WATCH | On AAP’s protest against BJP today, Delhi minister & AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj says, ” The nation knows how the BJP committed fraud in Chandigarh mayoral polls. Arvind Kejriwal & Bhagwant Mann will hold a peaceful protest at the BJP office today. Ahead of this…

— ANI (@ANI) February 2, 2024

The party’s primary handle has also been attacking the BJP; a photograph of AAP councillor Promila Gupta sitting at home with Delhi Police personnel was shared with a claim “Modi Police” had detained her. “What is the BJP afraid of? A peaceful demonstration?” the party wrote.

The BJP has been quick to respond, with national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla posting a lengthy video message attacking Mr Kejriwal for continuing to play the “victimhood” card.

“Arvind Kejriwal… if there is nothing to hide then why are you not presenting yourself before the ED and other agencies? You are the same Kejriwal who, under Anna Hazare’s tutelage, said first there should be resignation, then investigation. But today you refuse to cooperate with investigation.”

Mr Poonawalla also slammed the INDIA opposition bloc, of which Mr Kejriwal’s AAP is a member, declaring “the only thing that binds them is commission and corruption, not mission or vision.”

Delhi BJP leader Harish Khurana echoed that sentiment.

“Once again Kejriwal has skipped summons. This is the fifth time. Kejriwal is calling it unlawful so the question is why he hasn’t gone to court and got it quashed. It is a tactic to show himself helpless…”

Chandigarh Mayoral Polls Fallout

The AAP ripped into the BJP this week after the latter’s surprise win in the Chandigarh mayoral race. The AAP-Congress alliance – under the INDIA umbrella, its first electoral foray – had the numbers but fell short by four votes after eight – from Mr Kejriwal’s party – were “invalidated” for unspecified reasons.

READ | Arvind Kejriwal’s “Like Trump” Warning After AAP, Congress’ Poll Loss

Speaking to reporters after the results, Mr Kejriwal drew parallels to former United States President Donald Trump – who contested the transfer of power after he lost the 2020 election, claiming his rivals had rigged votes.

In addition to today’s protests, the AAP and Congress have approached the Supreme Court. Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi mentioned the matter, saying the Returning Officer had been “caught on video smudging the ballots”, to which Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said, “It will be listed.”

Delhi Liquor Policy Case

The AAP has been vociferous in its support of Mr Kejriwal on the liquor policy case front, with senior leaders accusing the BJP of manipulating central agencies to target him. The AAP has repeatedly claimed the BJP’s plan is to arrest Mr Kejriwal just before the April/May Lok Sabha election.

Mr Kejriwal was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in April, but has not yet been made an accused, by either agency. If he is arrested today, he becomes the first sitting Chief Minister to be taken into custody. Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren avoided that unwanted distinction Wednesday night.

READ | Hemant Soren Sent To Jail For A Day, Probe Agency Custody Decision Today

Three AAP leaders, all former ministers, have been arrested so far. Two – former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh – were arrested in the liquor policy case, while the third – former Health Minister Satyendra Jain – was arrested in an unrelated case.

All three remain behind bars.

The Delhi liquor case refers to allegations the AAP government’s revamped alcohol sales policy of 2022 allowed it to receive crores in kickbacks from cartels, and that this money was channelled into funding election expenses in Goa and other states.

NDTV Explains | What Is Delhi Liquor Policy Case Linked To Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP

The AAP has refuted all charges. The Delhi government reported a 27 per cent increase in income from the policy and generated Rs 8,900 crore in revenue. 

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