16 December 2015
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal claimed that his office was raided by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigations) and that he was shut out of his office for one full day. CBI said that it did not raid Kejriwal’s office but only the office of Rajendra Kumar, Kejriwal’s principal secretary. Rajender Kumar was appointed Kejriwal’s principal secretary in February when Kejriwal came to power. He was also secretary to Kejriwal during his previous 49-day stint as chief minister.
After the14 raids in different locations, including Rajender Kumar’s office in Delhi secretariat, CBI recovered $19,500 in cash and $ 4,500 in foreign currency.
CBI alleged that Kumar had benefitted one company in the tender process for purchasing of computers. Kumar is also alleged to have formed benami companies to allot government work and appointed his relatives as directors in many of these firms. This happened during the period between 2007 and 14, before Kumar joined Kejriwal’s office. CBI raid was a result of a complaint made by senior bureaucrat Ashish Joshi to the Anti-Corruption Branch chief MK Meena against Rajender Kumar accusing him of allegedly indulging in corruption.
Kejriwal lashed at Modi government that the raid was political vendetta against him. Kejriwal called Narendra Modi a ‘psychopath’. This is a very strong word to use against a Prime Minister. Is Kejriwal trying to get political mileage out of a routine investigation carried out by CBI? If Kumar is found guilty, Kejriwal will have to pay a heavy price for the words he used against Modi. Some of those on whom he placed his trust before, such as Jitendra Singh Tomar, Somnath Bharti and Rakhi Birla, all were found to have been on the wrong side of the law.
A complaint of financial misbehaviour against Rajender Kumar was filed in 2007 and another in 2014. It is not clear why CBI did not take any action on those two occasions. From the little information that is available now, the irregularity that CBI found was that the contracts were awarded without tenders. According to a senior bureaucrat, issuing tenders is not necessary when contracts are awarded to companies that were in the pre-selected panel. It is the responsibility of the issuer of the contract to ascertain the fair price of the contract amount. No doubt more light will be thrown on these things in due course.
Judging from the available information, it is unlikely that CBI would have raided Kejriwal’s or Kumar’s office, without substantial evidence against Kumar.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was among the first to sympathise with Kejriwal. She said ‘Sealing of a Chief Minister’s office is unprecedented”. Opposition party members began describing CBI’s raids as ‘political vendetta’. There were protests by the opposition parties in both Houses as well.