India Federal Police Arrest Leader From Key Opposition Party

(Bloomberg) -- India’s top investigating agency arrested a senior minister from the party that governs the capital Delhi, which may dent the group’s aspirations of challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in next year’s national elections.

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Late Sunday, the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister and a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, over allegations of irregularities in the framing and implementing of a new liquor sales policy, the agency said in a statement.

The Aam Aadmi Party has accused Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party of conducting a witch hunt against its leaders and called Sisodia’s arrest an attempt to tarnish the party and its popular leader Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister.

Sisodia is likely the only education minister in the world who is involved in a liquor scam, Sambit Patra, a spokesperson for the BJP, told reporters after the arrest.

Sisodia and his party have denied any wrongdoing. This is second arrest of a senior AAP leader by federal investigating agencies in recent months. In May, Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain was arrested on allegations of money laundering.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which grew out of an anti-corruption movement a decade ago, also governs the northern state of Punjab. It is trying to make inroads into more states. Its leader Kejriwal, is viewed as having national political ambitions.

The AAP defeated Modi’s party in local civic polls late last year in a hotly contested ballot. Before that defeat the BJP had controlled the Municipal Corporation of Delhi — one of the largest local councils in the world, serving about 16 million residents — for more than a decade.

The victory allowed the AAP to solidify its hold over the Indian capital ahead of the Group of 20 meetings this year.

(Updates with details.)

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