Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of waging a “psychopathic” political vendetta after federal investigators raided his administration’s headquarters on Tuesday.
While not giving a detailed explanation for the raid, a spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) confirmed officers had sealed off several offices in the Delhi secretariat where Kejriwal is based.
The firebrand chief minister, who is the founder and leader of the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi party, said that his own office was among the rooms that were raided although the CBI denied this was the case.
News of the raid was broken by Kejriwal himself, who posted on Twitter that “CBI raids my office” and then accused his arch rival Modi of being “a coward and a psychopath” who could not “handle me politically”.
India television cited sources in the bureau as saying the raid was against Kejriwal’s principal secretary Rajendra Kumar.
Speaking to AFP, a spokesman for the bureau gave few details but insisted that Kejriwal’s own office had not been targeted.
“We are investigating a case against a staffer from the chief minister’s office,” the CBI’s spokesman R.K. Gaur said.
“Our team didn’t raid the chief minister’s office but restricted entry to certain areas.”
But Kejriwal said the CBI, which is funded by the central government, was “lying”.
“My own office raided. Files of CM (chief minister) office are being looked into. Let Modi say which file he wants?”
“If CBI had any evidence against Rajendra, why didn’t they share it (with) me.”
Kejriwal and Modi are bitter rivals and even stood against each other at last year’s general election in the Varanasi constituency.
Although Kejriwal was beaten by Modi in the general election, he then oversaw a dramatic landslide victory over Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in polls in January for the Delhi state assembly.
The two men have since clashed repeatedly, with Kejriwal accusing the federal government of blocking a series of initiatives, including a new push to clean up the Indian capital’s polluted skies.
Kejriwal, a former tax inspector and self-styled revolutionary, has also been pushing to be given control of the police force operating in Delhi in line with other state administrations but his calls have been rebuffed by the prime minister.
There was no immediate reaction from Modi, who is himself usually a prolific Twitter user.
But one of his senior ministers ridiculed the idea that the raid was politically motivated and denied the central government would seek to exercise influence on a CBI investigation.
“Arvind Kejriwal’s reaction on the CBI raid is atrocious. CBI raids only when they receive a credible complaint and they want to investigate the corruption matter,” said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
“Does Arvind Kejriwal want to protect corruption? But he’s protecting corruption instead of immediately taking action against his own officials… This is the hypocrisy,” the senior minister told reporters.
Although Kejriwal’s party had a disappointing showing in last May’s parliamentary elections, its victory in Delhi bolstered its hopes of making major inroads elsewhere, especially as the main national opposition Congress party is in the electoral doldrums.
Aam Aadmi in particular has high hopes for state elections in Punjab which are due early next year. All four of the seats that the party won in the legislative elections are in Punjab.