ON THE EVENING of 22 March, there was unusual activity at the Election Commission of India’s headquarters, on Delhi’s Ashoka Road. At about 5 pm, various representatives of opposition parties had started trickling onto the premises. A team of television reporters was already in place. Various leaders of the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance arrived, including Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, Derek O’Brien of the All India Trinamool Congress, P Wilson of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). They had gathered together to protest a startling development: the arrest of Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, by the Directorate of Enforcement. This marked the first time in independent India that a sitting chief minister had been arrested. (Hemant Soren, the former chief minister of Jharkhand, resigned on the day he was taken into custody, on 31 January.) Kejriwal’s incarceration sent shockwaves across the political landscape, not least because it happened five days after polling dates had been announced for the upcoming general election.

On 21 March, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with Delhi’s 2021 excise policy, which was scrapped the following year. The arrest marked the first time in independent India a sitting chief minister has been detained. HINDUSTAN TIMES

The arrest was in connection with Delhi’s 2021 excise policy, which offered contracts for liquor shops to private players before being scrapped the following year. While the Enforcement Directorate alleged a Rs 600 crore scam, involving kickbacks to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, it did not disclose specifics of the money trail. The ED had already arrested top AAP leaders, such as Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh in 2023, and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha just days earlier. On the same day as Kejriwal’s arrest, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a first-information report against the AITC’s Mahua Moitra, for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for raising questions in parliament, and the income tax department served a notice to the Congress in relation to its returns for 1994–95. Consequently, party leaders alleged that income tax officials began freezing the Congress’s bank accounts, and recovering dues and penalties.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.