NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar, Tarun Sharma, a Deputy Secretary in CM’s office and three others on Monday in connection with an alleged corruption case of showing undue favours to a private company to award government contracts worth over Rs 50 crore.
The arrest of Kumar and Sharma besides three private persons is all set to escalate the political tempers between the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP not only in Delhi but in also those states which are set to go for the Assembly elections in the next year. Terming it an “unprecedented development in 23 years”, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Kumar’s arrest clearly indicated that the ruling dispensation was trying to paralyse the Chief Minister’s office as they fear defeat at the hands of the AAP in the upcoming assembly polls.
The heads of both local units of Congress and BJP were on the same page on the issue. Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said it was high time for the Chief Minister to tell the people of Delhi why he was constantly defending the “corrupt” official. City Congress president Ajay Maken said Kejriwal stands exposed as he had all through protected the tainted official. “Kejriwal owes an explanation to the Delhiites.”
Kumar, a 1989 IAS officer of AGMUT cadre, was called along with Tarun Sharma, a Deputy Secretary in Kejriwal's office, besides three other private persons for questioning at the CBI headquarters. Tehg agency then arrested the two officers and three private persons -- Ashok Kumar, Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Gupta. Sandeep Kumar and Dinesh Gupta are owner of a private company --Endeavour Systems Pvt. Ltd – which alleged of bagging five contracts with the help of Kumar.
The CBI had registered a case against Kumar and others in December last year alleging that the officer had abused his official position by "favouring a particular firm in the last few years in getting tenders of Delhi government departments".
The agency alleged that the accused persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy and caused a loss of Rs 12 crore to the Delhi Government in award of contracts between 2007 and 2015, and claimed that the officials had taken "undue benefit" of over Rs three crore while awarding the contract.
“The CBI has today arrested five persons including a senior civil servant, Government of Delhi, another official of Delhi government, two directors of a Delhi-based private company and a private person. The allegations relate to bribery and abuse of official position by the said senior civil servant and others to favour a Delhi based private company in award of contracts of Delhi government," CBI's Press Information officer R K Gaur said, adding the arrested accused persons will be produced before court on Tuesday.
The agency had registered a case and come under criticism after they carried raids on Kejriwal’s office.
The case was registered on a complaint from former Delhi Dialogue Commission member Ashish Joshi to the Delhi government's Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) earlier last year. The complaint was forwarded to CBI in July last following which the agency registered an FIR after a five-month probe.
Like Kejriwal, the 1989 IAS officer of UT cadre, Kumar is also an IIT alumnus. Considered as a “blue eyed boy” of the CM, he was appointed as his Principal Secretary in February 2015. During his first stint which lasted for just 49 days, Kumar had worked as the secretary to the CM.
Soon after reports of Kumar’s arrest became public, Sisodia was the first one to launch a direct attack on the Central government. He said: “Yesterday, there was a successful rally of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab. The situation in Goa is also set. The AAP will win Goa as well. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central Government is so scared that now they are hatching conspiracies to paralyse the Chief Minister’s office.”
The deputy CM also questioned the timing of the arrest, saying a conspiracy is being hatched to destabilize the whole system. “See the timing…yesterday a survey comes from Punjab that the AAP will get 100 seats out of 117. We are getting good response from Goa and Gujarat. They (BJP) are taking revenge against this. They are not allowing us to work in Delhi.”