A day after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sacked Delhi’s water resources minister Kapil Mishra from the cabinet, the former minister has alleged that he had witnessed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accepting ₹2 crore from another cabinet member, Satyendra Jain. While deputy CM Manish Sisodia cited Mishra’s ‘not-up-to-the-mark’ performance as the reason for the ouster, the MLA claimed the move could possibly be linked to his crusade against the alleged ₹400 crore water tanker scam involving the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
Mishra, who was also the ex-officio chairperson of the DJB, told The Indian Express that he had met Kejriwal on Saturday morning to discuss the alleged scam and named people within the party. “I had told them (the party) that in my press conference tomorrow, I will name some people, which I will still do,” he had then told the paper.
However, on Sunday, he registered a complaint with LG Anil Baijal instead. After the LG forwarded the complaint to the Anti Corruption Bureau of the Delhi government, Mishra today submitted evidence of the alleged scam before the Bureau. “I have submitted information on water tanker scam. Have submitted info as a witness and complainant. Have given info how investigation into tanker scam was repeatedly delayed, how some officials tried to cover up and how even taking the case against Sheila Dikshit was suppressed. I have given the names of Ashish Talwar and Vibhav kumar,” Mishra said after coming out of the ACB ofice today.
Here’s all you need to know about the alleged water scam and Mishra’s ouster:
1. In the run up to the 2015 assembly elections in Delhi, AAP promised in its manifesto that it would crackdown on “powerful water mafia working under the patronage of political leaders”. This, the manifesto said, will protect consumers from illegal practices of private tanker operators in regions where there is no piped water supply.
2. After AAP came to power in February 2015, the Delhi Jal Board, headed by Mishra, set up a probe having received complaints about alleged irregularities in the purchase of water tankers by the previous Congress government. The probe would investigate the role of former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit who was also the DJB chairperson, as was reported in June 2015.
3. In August 2015, Mishra wrote a letter to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal requesting that the Delhi government file an FIR against people involved in the scam citing the report of the five-member committee set up by him. The committee was probing the procurement of 385 water tankers by the DJB, then headed by Sheila Dikshit, in 2012.
“The report is self-explanatory and exposes how the then DJB chairperson and chief minister Sheila Dikshitji and other board members have consistently by-passed laws and rules to cause a loss of almost ₹400 crore to the Delhi Jal Board,” the minister wrote in his letter. He also claimed in the letter that possible attempts to destabilise the AAP government in Delhi and to remove him from the chair might be made after the ‘big expose’.
4. Three days after the MLA’s letter, Kejriwal replaced Mishra with deputy CM Manish Sisodia as law minister. The party maintained that the replacement was done to enable the minister to concentrate on Delhi’s water woes and to hand over the law portfolio to a senior minister, as Mishra was a temporary replacement for the former minister Jitendra Singh Tomar. However, the BJP alleged that this was a political ploy to protect Dikshit.
5. After several months, the BJP protested in May 2016 against inaction over the report of the enquiry committee.
6. In June 2016, Mishra informed the Delhi Assembly that he had written to the Prime Minister and the then lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung on June 13, asking for a CBI probe into the water tanker scam. Kejriwal too dared the leader of the Opposition and BJP MLA Vijender Gupta to get a probe initiated against the previous Congress administration.
7. Jung forwarded Mishra’s complaint to the ACB on June 16.
8. The ACB registered an FIR in June against both Sheila Dikshit and Arvind Kejriwal. Special commissioner of police (ACB) M K Meena said they had received complaints from Mishra and BJP MLA Vijender Gupta and that they would quiz both Kejriwal and Dikshit if necessary.
9. Soon after, MK Meena said that the ACB had summoned Dikshit for questioning. The ACB also sent a notice to Kapil Mishra, asking him to join the probe and explain why there was a delay in taking action in the matter.
10. In July 2016, Mishra alleged that he wasn’t asked anything about Dikshit’s involvment in the scam. “The entire focus of the inquiry was an attempt to frame me or chief minister Arvind Kejriwal,” he said. As scheduled, Dikshit was questioned by the ACB in August. Mishra, however, alleged that Dikshit wasn’t interrogated as comprehensively as he was.
11. In September 2016, the water minister again alleged that the ACB was trying to deliberately target Kejriwal. He had received a letter from the ACB asking for records of communication between Kejriwal and Mishra after he submitted the report of the enquiry committee.
12. In an ongoing rift within the AAP after the party lost multiple elections this year, Mishra had sided with poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas. Vishwas had criticised the party leadership.
13. On May 6, 2017, Mishra was sacked from the cabinet. He alleged the ouster had to do with his attempt to clean the party and his discussion with Kejriwal on the water tanker scam.