NEW DELHI: The war between the Kejriwal government and its bête noire, the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), has escalated over single vendor clearance given to the ‘Gurgaon-based’ bus aggregator company Shuttl.
After State Transport Minister Gopal Rai resigned last week over the Premium Bus Scam, ACB is planning to question Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) vice-chairman Ashish Khetan. Sources said it is also investigating whether Shuttl funded AAP for the upcoming Punjab elections, before the scheme was approved.
The company started advertising premium bus services before it even got the contract. No tenders have been floated, and the government has issued only a notification. ACB sources said Shuttl raised `108 crore to run the premium bus services, even before the Cabinet approved the scheme. The State Law and Finance Department was not consulted.
The ACB has been engaged in an anti-corruption crusade against the AAP government. It is grilling Directorate of Information and Publicity employees as well as investigating the alleged role of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a case which concerns the granting of Delhi government ads to an outdoor media company, allegedly owned by his relatives.
The ACB, headed by Mukesh Kumar Meena, claims the policy to bring the bus services to Delhi was drafted by Rai and the DDC, allegedly at the behest of Shuttl. Meena hinted AAP legislators and those involved in preparing the Cabinet note and agenda would face interrogators.
“We have questioned Transport Commissioner Sanjay Kumar and Transport Minister Gopal Rai.... If needed, they will be questioned again. We have issued summons to five transport officials and have asked them to join probe next week. Many more names have cropped up. We will also question the people who drafted the policy to unearth the entire nexus,” Meena told Express.
“Allegations have been made that the Motor Vehicles Act has been violated, in connivance with a private shuttle company. I can’t comment on their veracity. So far it seems the policy was made to benefit this company by government officers and powerful private people,” added Meena.
Sources said even before the second phase of Delhi’s odd-even traffic scheme was rolled out on April 15, Rai and a few other AAP MLAs and leaders were in touch with Shuttl. Investigations have revealed it is a Bengaluru-based company and runs White Lines services in Delhi, providing pickup and drop services for office-goers. Before the second odd-even phase was rolled out, it mentioned on its website: “We at Shuttl hope to make the second coming of Odd-even oddly even better...We’re adding 31 more routes to an already existing 100 route offering... ”
Khetan and team purportedly prepared the agenda to bring premium bus services to Delhi in consultation with bus service providers in February, including Shuttl. Then Transport Secretary Parimal Rai opposed the move, arguing it was against the transport policy and violated the Motor Vehicles Act. He tried to convince DDC members and the Transport Minister, but to no avail.
A disappointed Rai approached the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting a transfer. A 2008-batch IAS officer, Sanjay Kumar, was given additional charge of the department. Kumar complied with the Transport Minister and AAP leaders.
Meanwhile, the agenda prepared by DDC was approved by the Cabinet. Kumar was the first to be questioned by the ACB.