NEW DELHI, Feb 2: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party used the money generated from the alleged Delhi liquor scam for election campaigning in Goa. “Investigation of the trail of this kickback so far has revealed that part of these funds were used in the election campaign of the AAP,” said the ED in the charge-sheet filed in the case.
The Goa Assembly elections were held in 2022 in which the AAP won two seats.
According to the ED, cash payments amounting to almost Rs 70 lakh were made to the volunteers who were part of AAP’s survey teams. The probe agency said “told certain persons involved in the campaign related work to receive the payments in cash.”
The ED charge-sheet said the AAP communications in-charge Vijay Nair — had arranged a FaceTime video call from his phone between Sameer Mahendru, chief of Indospirits and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Enforcement Directorate has alleged in a new charge sheet. On behalf of AAP leaders, Vijay Nair received ₹ 100 crore from the “South group” as advance for licenses in Delhi liquor policy, the agency has alleged.
Vijay is “his boy,” and Mr Kejriwal had apparently told Sameer Mahendru to “trust him and carry on with him,” the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in the charge sheet, which has been accessed by NDTV. Mr Kejriwal is not named in the charge sheet as an accused.
It further said Vijay Nair, on behalf of AAP, received kickbacks to the tune of Rs 100 crore from a group comprising of YSRCP MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta, Aurobindo Pharma director P Sarath Chandra Reddy and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter Kavitha Kalvakuntla while Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally had facilitated the transfer of the said money in conspiracy with Dinesh Arora, an aide of the Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, the central agency said.
The ED filed a supplementary charge-sheet in the case and produced it before Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday. AAP’s Vijay Nair, Sarath Reddy, Binoy Babu, also a businessman, Abhishek Boinpally and Amit Arora were named in the supplementary charge sheet. The chargesheet did not include Manish Sisodia’s name. The ED told the court that further investigation is going on in the matter.
The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supremo responded to the ED’s charge and said it was “completely fictional.” The AAP sources claimed that there is no truth in the allegations of the Enforcement Directorate and that Sameer Mahendru has told a court that his statement was obtained under duress.
“The sentence where which Chief Minister Kejriwal’s name is being added in this case — accused Sameer Mahendru has already filed an application in the court regarding this sentence,” a source said. “Sameer Mahendru has accused the ED of forcing his statement,” he added.
Asked about the matter, Kejriwal said, “The ED must have filed 5,000 cases”. “The ED is meant to topple governments and buy and sell MLAs,” he added, terming the charge-sheet “complete fiction.”
The “South Group” comprised Kavitha of Telangana’s ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Magunta Srinivasalu Reddy, an MP from Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress, and Sarath Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma, the agency has alleged.
The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation have claimed that irregularities were committed while modifying Delhi’s excise policy with connivance and kickbacks from the liquor lobby. Under it, licence fee was waived or reduced and undue favours were extended to liquor licence holders, the agencies have claimed.
There were also allegations that liquor firms made 12 per cent profit in the process, of which 6 per cent was routed to public servants through middlemen like Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Bonipally. The AAP had claimed that the case, which came up in the run-up to the Gujarat elections, was a diversionary tactic of the BJP, which later swept the polls. Mr Sisodia, after a nine-hour questioning by the ED officials, claimed that he was asked to quit AAP.
The liquor scheme came under the scanner after Delhi L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of Delhi’s Excise Policy 2021-22. The Delhi Excise Policy, implemented from November 17, 2021 was scrapped by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in July 2022 following a CBI probe into its implementation. The ED is investigating the money trail in the alleged scam.