Power Struggles

As CBI raids Delhi CM's office, Arvind Kejriwal calls Modi a 'coward' and 'psychopath'

Agency says it is investigating corruption allegations against Delhi's principal secretary.

Cooperative federalism just entered all new territory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always had a tough time living up to his promise of better centre-state relations when it came to the Aam Aadmi Party-run Delhi, but matters have now hit a new low. After months of sparring in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has now publicly called Modi a "coward" and a "psychopath" after the Central Bureau of Investigation sealed and raided the Kejriwal's office and the Delhi secretariat on Tuesday morning.

The raids were reportedly carried out in connection with allegations that Rajender Kumar, Delhi's Principal Secretary, has set up companies to offer supplies to the government without tenders. Former Delhi Dialogues Commission member-secretary Ashish Joshi had lodged a complaint in June accusing Kumar of creating companies that would directly work for the government without tenders.

Kejriwal complained on Twitter that, "using the excuse of Rajender, the Centre is looking at all the files in my office".

Things weren't exactly hunky-dory between Kejriwal and Modi even before this incident. Since Kejriwal came to power in a landslide last February, leaving Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party with just three lawmakers in the 70-strong assembly, the state has constantly butted heads with the Centre.

Delhi's unique arrangement, where law and order and land are controlled by the central government not the state, has given Kejriwal constant fodder to attack Modi's government and demand full statehood. This has also meant a constant back and forth between the chief minister's office and that of the Lieutenant Governor, who represents the Centre. None of it would be labelled "cooperative," never mind federalism.

Ray of hope

Over the last few weeks, however, there were suggestions that things might have gotten better. The Delhi government worked with the Centre to put together its Swachh Delhi app, and it has also got the cooperation of the home ministry in implementing its odd-even formula to restrict car use and pollution in the capital, since the police are controlled by the Centre.

All of that has now been thrown out of the window. It's not easy to come back from calling the prime minister a psychopath.

Whether the investigation against Kumar extends to any involvement of politicians, AAP is treating this raid as a direct affront on Kejriwal and his government. The CBI has always been seen as a tool of the Centre, something Modi himself acknowledged in the run-up to elections last year, so allegations that any heavy-handed action by the agency is based on directions from the government wouldn't be beyond the pale.

"This is the first time in India that CBI has raided a Chief Minister's office," said AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh. "The prime minister is creating an Emergency-like situation. It is well known that CBI is working on the instructions of the prime minister. Was the chief minister informed about the CBI raid at his office before conducting raids?"

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