AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, under the CBI lens over alleged irregularities in excise policy, deserves the Bharat Ratna for improving education standard in schools, but instead he is being hounded by the Centre due to political motives, CM Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday.
On the other hand, Sisodia, who handles education among a host of other key portfolios, made a sensational claim, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) offered him the chief minister's post if he split the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
"I have received a message from the BJP -- leave the AAP and join the BJP. We will ensure that all cases lodged by the CBI and the ED against you are closed. My reply to the BJP -- I am a descendant of Maharana Pratap and a Rajput. I am ready to get beheaded but can never bow down before conspirators and corrupt people. All the cases against me are false. Do whatever you want to do," Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi.
In response to Sisodia's tweet, Kejriwal said: "It means that the CBI and ED raids have nothing to do with the liquor policy and corruption? These raids were carried out only to topple the AAP government in Delhi? Like they have done in other states." Later, he tweeted: "Operation Lotus fails in Delhi."
Sisodia is among the 15 people and entities named in an FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Delhi excise policy.
The New York Times has lauded our education model, Kejriwal, on his fifth visit in a month to poll-bound Gujarat, said in Ahmedabad. But instead of appreciating Sisodia, he is being targeted, Kejriwal told reporters.
"Don't you feel ashamed to make the CBI conduct raids on a man who did wonders in five years, did what existing political parties could not do in 70 years and made government schools the best. Such a man should get the Bharat Ratna," the CM said.
Kejriwal, who is also the AAP convener, also expressed apprehension that Sisodia may be arrested soon.
"Manish Sisodia may be arrested; who knows I may also be arrested. All this is being done in view of the Gujarat Assembly elections," he said.
Kejriwal and Sisodia are currently in Gujarat to strengthen the AAP's base there in the run-up to the state Assembly polls scheduled later this year.
Kejriwal said the people of Gujarat are "sad" and are bearing the brunt of the "arrogance" of the BJP regime of the last 27 years in the state.
He promised quality education and health care to the people of Gujarat if the AAP comes to power in the state, where the Assembly polls are due by the year-end.
Defending the Delhi government's liquor policy, Kejriwal said they were forced to change it. "A total 850 (liquor) shops had to open in Delhi. But only 350 shops could open, 500 shops could not open. The way the Centre and all agencies started pressuring our officers, they said no to auctioning new shops. The LG (Lieutenant Governor), police, and central agencies were putting pressure. The policy is very good, and we are ready to debate with anyone," he said.
Got two offers from BJP: Sisodia
Meanwhile, Sisodia, who is also visiting Gujarat, claimed the BJP offered him the chief minister's post if he broke the AAP.
Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad, Sisodia said he was surprised when someone came to him with a message that he has "two offers" from the BJP.
"The messenger said one was that all big cases registered against you by CBI-ED will be taken back. The other offer was that I break the party and they will make you chief minister," the AAP leader claimed.
"I gave a clear political answer to them - 'Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is my political guru and I have learnt politics from him'. I have not come into politics to be CM or PM," Sisodia said.
"I am an honest man. In fact, I am with the Arvind Kejriwal team because I am a "kattar imandar" (staunch honest) person. These fake cases are weak, and you can't threaten me with these, Sisodia said at the press conference. The deputy CM said imporving education in Delhi schools remains his top priority. I am here with a dream to ensure that every child of Delhi gets the best education. And today I am working to ensure the best education to every child in the country, whether he is a child of the poor or the rich. This is my dream, and I am working on that dream," Sisodia said.
Asked about the name of the persons who sent him message, Sisodia said, "The person who sent me message told me that he was behind making Suvendu Adhikari in West Bengal, Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam, Narayan Rane and others join the BJP. He said I could trust him because he is the man who works on making people join the BJP."
Sisodia, however, did not reveal the name of the messenger.