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Tarun IAS

Delhi CM Kejriwal on house row: ‘PM nervous’

On Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal directed his criticism towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi in response to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiating a preliminary inquiry into alleged irregularities regarding the renovation of Kejriwal’s official residence in Civil Lines. Kejriwal implied that this investigation was indicative of the Prime Minister’s unease.

The official residence of the Delhi Chief Minister, situated at 6, Flag Staff Road in Civil Lines, became a focal point of political controversy in May when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that ₹44.78 crore had been spent on renovating the building, contravening established guidelines. In response, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) refuted these allegations, asserting that the renovation was necessary, and no rules were breached. Kejriwal has been residing at this address since 2015.

Kejriwal remarked, “You cannot expect better from a fourth-pass king. He is occupied either with inquiries or delivering speeches 24 hours a day; he does not engage in any work. They aim to undermine me and compel me to bow before them. However, I will not yield.”

During an event at Tyagaraj stadium, he pointed out that this wasn’t the first time an inquiry had been initiated against him and challenged Modi to step down if the CBI investigation into the alleged renovation irregularities yielded no incriminating evidence.

He emphasized, “This indicates that the PM is apprehensive. So far, he has conducted more than 50 inquiries and registered over 33 cases against me. They’ve investigated everything, but nothing has been uncovered. Since I assumed the role of Delhi CM, they have been investigating me, but they haven’t found anything to date.”

Kejriwal welcomed the probe and asserted that it would ultimately reveal no wrongdoing. He underlined that he had faced numerous allegations in the past, including those related to school construction, bus procurement, liquor, roads, water, and electricity, yet none had resulted in findings of misconduct.

Earlier in the day, BJP lawmaker Manoj Tiwari criticized the AAP and stated that the CBI investigation would expose those responsible for the irregularities in the reconstruction of the bungalow.

Tiwari said, “The investigation will also uncover who directed PWD officials to approve tenders for various works related to the bungalow’s construction. They founded the party in the name of the common man and have looted the money of the common man, especially during the peak of the pandemic.”

These statements from both sides followed the CBI’s registration of a preliminary inquiry (PE) on September 25 against unidentified individuals. An official familiar with the matter mentioned that on May 12, Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar had submitted a report flagging irregularities in the construction of the Chief Minister’s residence. Congress leader Ajay Maken also submitted a complaint to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, highlighting several violations in the house’s construction. On May 19, Saxena wrote to the Union home ministry, recommending an investigation by a specialized agency.

In a letter to the Public Works Department (PWD) engineer-in-chief on September 26, the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) requested certified copies and details of expenses related to the construction work. Interestingly, the agency used the term “construction of a new residential building” for the Chief Minister instead of “renovation” in its communication with the PWD.

The CBI sought various documents from the PWD, including those related to recommendations or approvals, bids, proposals, building plan approval, specifications, guidelines, and payments. The PWD was instructed to provide these documents by October 3.

The BJP alleged that between September 9, 2020, and June 2022, ₹44.78 crore was spent on renovating the Chief Minister’s official residence, contravening established guidelines. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also raised concerns about “corruption in the renovation of the bungalow” when addressing the Lok Sabha in August.

The AAP maintained that the renovation work was essential due to the property’s age (80 years old) and multiple incidents of roof collapse on the premises.

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