Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did not appear before Enforcement Directorate in the excise case and said the BJP-led government at the centre wanted to arrest him to scuttle campaigning ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

Since Wednesday AAP leaders and Delhi Ministers were raking up fear that the ED would raid Kejriwal’s house and arrest him though the agency kept mum on such speculation even after he did not appear before investigators for the third time on Wednesday.

Press conference

The Delhi CM held a press conference and charged that the BJP was trying to tarnish his image but he asserted that honesty was his “biggest asset”. He alleged that the ED’s move is malicious and he has no hesitation of appearing before the ED since eight months ago he faced the CBI officials probing the same corruption case. Questioning the timing of the ED notice, he asked what was the ED doing all this while. “Why am I being summoned before Lok Sabha polls? It is because the BJP does not want to get me interrogated but arrested by the ED,” he claimed.

The AAP convenor stated he was waiting for a response to his letter he wrote to the ED claiming their summons are illegal. “They haven’t replied because they know that their summonses are illegal. Should I follow illegal summons? If legally sound summons will be issued, I will follow them. My greatest wealth is my honesty. They want to break me by tarnishing my image,” he said.

Kejriwal claimed there was no excise policy scam, neither there was any evidence against any of the AAP leaders as was being made out.

“Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Vijay Nair are not in jail because they were involved in corruption but because they did not join the BJP. We are able to fight them because we have not been involved in corruption,” he said.

The police has increased its deployment around Kejriwal’s official residence to avoid any untoward incident, as AAP leaders expressed fear that the Delhi CM will be arrested on Thursday.

Similar chronology

AAP spokesperson Jasmine Shah said he has learnt from “reliable sources” about an impending raid at Kejriwal’s house to arrest him. He said former Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and AAP MP Sanjay Singh’s arrests were cases to substantiate their fear of similar action against Kejriwal.

“You see the chronology before Manish Sisodia was arrested. The BJP leaders started saying that Manisha Sisodia is going to be arrested. The ED dismissed the claims, but later he was arrested,” Shah said. Similarly, over the last 24 hours, every BJP leader has said Kejriwal will be arrested.

Last evening, AAP leader and Delhi’s Law and PWD Minister, Atishi, posted on X, “News coming in that ED is going to raid @ArvindKejriwal’s residence tomorrow morning. Arrest likely.”

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj also shared his apprehensions about Kejriwal’s arrest by the ED in a social media post. “It is heard that tomorrow morning, ED is going to reach the house of Chief Minister Kejriwal and arrest him,” Bharadwaj said.

Creating farce

Supreme Court advocate and Delhi BJP Secretary Bansuri Swaraj, who is also daughter of former Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, criticised Kejriwal for skipping summons and said the CM wants to create a “farce” that he would be arrested. “Atishi is predicting that there will be an ED raid and Arvind Kejriwal will be arrested. I want to ask on what basis is she making this prediction? ED raids are confidential. Arvind Kejriwal wants to create a farce where he wants to create an atmosphere that he will be arrested. He wants ED to investigate him and come to his residence to arrest him,” she counter charged.

Both Sisodia and Singh continue to be in jail as their bail applications have been denied by the courts for the last few months.