Most senior Congress leaders have been avoiding a direct comment on the arrest of Sisodia. So far, no press conference has been held on the issue from the Congress podium. There has been no post on social media from either the official Congress handle or from that of the spokespersons.
Congress sources told TOI on the condition of anonymity that the party is returning to AAP in the same coin by not standing by it in the Sisodia arrest. They said AAP had not supported the Congress when its top two leaders – then party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi – were summoned and interrogated by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on multiple occasions last year.
As events unfolded, the only senior Congress leader to not just talk about the arrest but also to support the CBI action is former Union minister Ajay Maken. While talking to news agency ANI, he sought to tell the Congress leaders that the Kejriwal government allegedly used the money that it got out of the liquor dealings against their party in the 2022 Goa assembly election.
Maken said, “Let me tell those who have sympathies for Manish Sisodia that it is an open and shut case of corruption. It should be seen as a major liquor scam in Delhi.”
The former Congress general secretary said though Kejriwal and AAP were complaining of excesses against Sisodia but their government constituted a committee on September 4, 2020 to recommend changes in the excise policy. “However, the government did exactly the opposite of what the committee recommended so that corruption could take place,” said.
Maken was of the view that the committee said the government should take the wholesale under its control as in Karnataka. But the AAP government privatised it. He said earlier, there used to be 6 per cent commission which the government increased to 12 per cent. “It has now been established that the Delhi government took back 6 per cent after hiking the commission to 12 per cent. What is this if not corruption?” he said.
Maken said, “The money trail of at least Rs 100 crore has been traced. This money was used by AAP against the Congress in Goa assembly election. I would like to tell all the Congress leaders that they should understand that AAP used this money against the party. This money was used by associating with anti-national forces and to help them.”
The former president of Delhi unit of the Congress said, “This is the same AAP which had fought against corruption. It is a matter of regret that AAP, which was formed for creation of Lokpal, has forgotten Lokpal and today have got engaged in liquor dealings. They are using money for political use and against the Congress. This is what I would like to tell all the Congress leaders.”
Maken had addressed two press conferences from Congress headquarters in the national capital on the Delhi government’s liquor policy – one last month and the other last year. However, the Congress has not held any press conference after Sisodia has been arrested.
No other Congress leader has been as forthcoming as Maken. The only official sort of reaction came about 24 hours after the CBI took Sisodia into custody after an eight-hour interrogation. In a post on Twitter, Congress general secretary and communications chief Jairam Ramesh attacked the Narendra Modi government for “targetting” the opposing leaders through institutions like ED, CBI and Income-tax (IT) department.
However, the Rajya Sabha MP did not name Sisodia in his tweet. He said, “@INCIndia has always held the belief that institutions like ED, CBI and Income Tax Dept have become instruments of political vendetta and harassment under Modi Sarkar. These institutions have lost all professionalism. Opposition leaders are selectively targeted to destroy their reputation.”
.@INCIndia has always held the belief that institutions like ED, CBI & Income Tax Dept have become instruments of p… https://t.co/TOEQJLIqKA
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) 1677508417000
Abhishek Manu Singhvi
As against Maken and Ramesh, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi was seen supporting Sisodia.
On February 26, he said in a tweet, “God be with u #Manish ji. Distressing 2 see such repeated, flagrant, egregious and shameless misuse of arrest power. #Sisodia cannot be a flight risk, suborning evidence or witnesses or non-cooperation after almost a year of investigation and interrogation. How and why arrest after so long?”
God be with u #Manish ji. Distressing 2c such repeated, flagrant, egregious & shameless misuse of arrest power.… https://t.co/SCORmxKhVB
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) 1677405997000
However, the very next day, Singhvi clarified. He said, “It is but obvious that my tweet at 3.36 pm on 26/2/23 on #Manish #Sisodia was in context of my appearance for him as senior counsel in many cases and not on behalf of #Congress party, though space constraints made me inadvertently omit the mentioning of this fact.”
It is but obvious that my tweet at 336 pm on 26/2/23 on #Manish #Sisodia was in context of my appearance for him as… https://t.co/gA4LTJ3JZd
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) 1677482977000
Jairam Ramesh retweeted Singhvi’s second tweet which clarified his stand in the controversy. May be it was indication of the Congress’s official position on the issue.