The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a worker from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Charanpreet Singh, for his alleged involvement in a money collection scheme in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. The agency has alleged that Singh was collecting money from hawala operators and distributing it for expenses incurred during the 2022 Goa Assembly election campaign of the party.
Last week, the CBI had arrested a media executive, Arvind Kumar Singh, for allegedly transferring Rs 17 crore to Chariot Media, which handled outdoor advertising for the AAP during the Goa polls. Charanpreet Singh allegedly handled a portion of this Rs 17 crore for distribution, the officials said, adding that he was one of the several persons authorized to collect money from hawala operators and distribute it for campaign purposes.
The CBI FIR has alleged that the Delhi Excise Policy for 2021-22 to grant licenses to liquor traders favored certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the ruling AAP. The policy was later scrapped.
“It was further alleged that irregularities were committed, including modifications in the excise policy, extending undue favors to the licensees, waiver/reduction in license fee, the extension of L-1 license without approval, etc.,” a CBI spokesperson had said after the FIR was filed on August 17 last year.
The agency has alleged that kickbacks of around Rs 90-100 crore were paid in advance to some AAP leaders in Delhi and public servants by some people in the liquor business from south India through co-accused Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally and Dinesh Arora.
The AAP has denied any wrongdoing and has accused the central government of using the CBI for political vendetta. The party has claimed that the Delhi excise policy was transparent and aimed at increasing revenue for the state government.
The case is likely to have political implications for the AAP, which is currently in power in Delhi and has been expanding its presence in other states. The party has been positioning itself as an alternative to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress party.