India Arrests Opposition Leader for Graft Weeks before Election

Published: 25 March 2024

Arwind Kejriwal India

Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: Aayush Sangal, Flickr, License)

By Haroon Janjua

Supporters of opposition leader and Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, who was detained last week over allegations of corruption, said on Monday that the real reason for the apprehension was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fear of him as the only opponent who could defeat him in next month's elections.

Kejriwal, 55, was detained on Thursday night as part of an investigation into kickbacks on alcohol license deals. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in the capital city in 2015 thanks to their powerful anti-corruption rhetoric.

Both him and his party were often targeted by Modi’s nationalist government. The arrest of the sitting chief minister, the first of its kind in the South Asian country, has prompted outrage across the country particularly because of the accusation that he and his ministers had taken one billion rupees (US$12 million) in bribes and kickbacks from liquor contractors two years ago. The AAP party denied those claims.

Hundreds of Kejriwal’s party supporters held protests on Friday against his arrest and clashed with police; several of the party workers were taken away in police buses.

AAP senior leadership condemned the arrest and party comrade Atishi Marlena Singh said there was no evidence Kejriwal was implicated in corruption but that Prime Minister Modi is aware of the fact that it is "only Arvind Kejriwal who can challenge him." Modi and his government seek a third consecutive term in office.

"PM Modi is confused about whether Arvind Kejriwal is a human being or an idea. You can put one Arvind Kejriwal behind bars, but this will only inspire thousands of Arvind Kejriwals to come out and hit the streets across the country," she contended.

Kejriwal told India Today that he will not resign and that he will run the Delhi city government from jail.

The AAP is a political coalition of 27 parties across the country that have united to contest Modi and his party in the coming elections under the acronym INDIA.

Various opposition leaders have been arrested and probed in the past year on several corruption allegations including Rahul Gandhi, the main opposition leader of the Congress party.

Gandhi took to social media to condemn what he views as the actions of a "scared dictator."