Over the past week, two major politicians have been arrested in connection with the alleged Delhi excise policy scam – Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, bribes worth Rs 100 crore were paid to leaders of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party by Kavitha and other individuals described as the “South Group” to gain control over the liquor business in Delhi.

Firms linked to a member of the “South Group”, however, paid at least Rs 55 crore to the Bharatiya Janata Party through electoral bonds, fresh data released on March 21 shows.

Hyderabad-based businessman Sarath Chandra Reddy won licences for five liquor retail zones under the excise policy, according to a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The excise policy was in force in Delhi from November 2021 to July 2022.

Sarath Reddy was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on November 11, 2022.

As we have reported previously, four days after his arrest, Aurobindo Pharma, a firm founded by his billionaire father PV Ram Prasad Reddy in which he is a director, paid Rs 5 crore to the BJP through electoral bonds.

In May 2023, when Reddy’s bail plea came up for hearing, the Enforcement Directorate did not oppose it. After he was released from prison, Reddy turned approver in the case on June 2, 2023. Aurobindo Pharma donated another Rs 25 crore to the BJP through bonds on November 8, 2023.

Now, we have found that on the same day, two other companies connected to Aurobindo Pharma also donated Rs 25 crore to the BJP.

Eugia Pharma Specialities Ltd and APL Healthcare Ltd are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Aurobindo Pharma, according to the parent company’s annual report for 2022-’23. Both of these companies share at least one director with Aurobindo Pharma.

‘The South Group’

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that the “South Group”, which includes many individuals mainly from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, gave Rs 100 crore to leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party in exchange for the Delhi excise policy to be rolled out in a way that would benefit them.

The kickbacks were then used by the Aam Aadmi Party during the 2022 Goa Assembly election to pay advertisers, vendors, and volunteers conducting surveys, according to a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate.

The federal investigative agency estimates that the Delhi government lost at least Rs 2,873 crore in revenues, from both the loss of licence fees and the profits made by private players instead of the government.

Aurobindo Pharma has also donated money to the Telugu Desam Party and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi. While the donation to the Telugu Desam Party was made in 2021, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi received Rs 15 crore from Aurobindo in April 2022, months before the excise policy was scrapped and came under the scrutiny of central investigative agencies.

This report is part of a collaborative project involving three news organisations – Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute – and independent journalists.

Project Electoral Bond includes Aban Usmani, Anand Mangnale, Anisha Sheth, Anjana Meenakshi, Ayush Tiwari, Azeefa Fathima, Basant Kumar, Dhanya Rajendran, Divya Aslesha, Jayashree Arunachalam, Joyal, M Rajshekhar, Maria Teresa Raju, Nandini Chandrashekar, Neel Madhav, Nikita Saxena, Parth MN, Pooja Prasanna, Prajwal Bhat, Prateek Goyal, Pratyush Deep, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Raman Kirpal, Ravi Nair, Sachi Hegde, Shabbir Ahmed, Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, Siddharth Mishra, Sumedha Mittal, Supriya Sharma, Tabassum Barnagarwala and Vaishnavi Rathore.