NEW DELHI, Dec 15 — Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused his arch-rival Narendra Modi of waging a political vendetta, branding the Indian premier a “psychopath” after federal investigators raided his administration’s headquarters.
The firebrand chief minister, who founded and leads the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi party, is a bitter opponent of Modi and the pair have clashed repeatedly in recent months.
A spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) confirmed officers had sealed off several offices in the Delhi secretariat where Kejriwal is based, although officials denied the move was politically motivated.
Kejriwal said his own office was among the rooms 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 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 targeted Kejriwal’s principal secretary Rajendra Kumar.
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,” spokesman R.K. Gaur told AFP.
“Our team didn’t raid the chief minister’s office but restricted entry to certain areas.”
The issue triggered chaos in parliament where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, one of Modi's closest allies, told protesting members repeatedly “the raid has nothing to do with Mr Arvind Kejriwal” and ridiculed the idea it was politically motivated.
“There is a corruption case complaint with the CBI against one officer attached to the office of the chief minister,” he told the upper house of parliament, his voice nearly drowned out by his opponents.
“The search is in relation to a case for an alleged offence committed in his capacity before he joined the office of Mr Kejriwal,” he said, adding that 14 other places had been searched in connection with the case.
Kejriwal immediately retorted on Twitter, saying Jaitley “lied in parliament”.
Kejriwal and Modi stood against each other in last year’s general election in the Varanasi constituency.
Kejriwal lost but then oversaw a dramatic landslide victory over Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party 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.
Mohan Guruswamy, head of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Alternatives think-tank, said he was not surprised by the raid given the history of tensions between the two men.
“It is a well known fact Kejriwal is opposed to Modi... Kejriwal has opposed his brand of politics, economic policy and finds him the only political competitor in present political system,” Guruswamy told AFP.
“He went to contest the Varanasi seat against Modi to make a point that he is no less than Modi.”
Although Kejriwal’s party had a disappointing showing in the May 2014 parliamentary elections, the 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. — AFP