Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal has been granted bail after arrest in a bribery case


NEW DELHI (AP) — Arvind Kejriwalan Indian opposition leader and Prime Minister of New Delhi, was released on bail by a court in the capital on Thursday after arrested in a bribery case in March, local media reported.

Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, was arrested in March, weeks before India’s national elections in which he was among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s challengers.

The development on Kejriwal’s bail was reported by news website Live Law on Thursday.

Modi returned to power for a third straight term earlier in June, even as his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party lost its majority. However, Modi’s National Democratic Alliance coalition won enough seats to form a government, with him at the helm.

Kejriwal’s arrest was widely condemned by opposition parties who called it a political move by the Modi government against one of his fiercest opponents in a national election. The New Delhi leader was granted interim bail last month to campaign before being returned to jail on June 2.

He is expected to be released after bail is paid, local media reported.

On March 21, Kejriwal was arrested by the Federal Enforcement Directorate, India’s top financial investigation agency. The agency, controlled by Modi’s government, accused his party and ministers of taking 1 billion rupees ($12 million) in bribes from liquor companies nearly two years ago. The arrest caused days of protests by party activists supported by other opposition parties.

Kejriwal denied the allegations and called them a political conspiracy. His party is part of a broad alliance of opposition parties called INDIA, which was Modi’s main challenger in the elections, which concluded earlier this month.

While the federal agency accused Kejriwal of being a key conspirator in the liquor bribery case, the opposition parties accused the government of misusing federal investigative agencies to harass and weaken its political opponents. They pointed to a series of raids, arrests and investigations into corruption of key opposition figures in the months before national elections.

Modi’s government denies using law enforcement agencies to attack the opposition, saying the agencies act independently.

Kejriwal, a former civil servant, founded the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012. He promised to rid the Indian political system and governance of corruption and inefficiency.

The party’s symbol – a broom – and its promise to sweep away the corrupt administration struck a chord with New Delhi residents fed up with runaway inflation and slow economic growth.

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