Amid a political slugfest, the Aam Aadmi Party Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making efforts to topple the Delhi government "by hook or by crook", claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party approached its four MLAs with an offer of Rs 20 crore to join the saffron party.
The BJP mocked the allegations, with its spokesperson Sambit Patra, saying, "They may have got such offers from liquor mafia. Why do not they tell the names of persons who approached them?"
The Congress attacked the AAP over alleged irregularities in its excise policy in Delhi, saying Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia should get the Bharat Ratna if there is a new category for corruption.
Earlier this week, Sisodia had claimed that he was offered the chief minister's post in Delhi by the BJP, with a promise to also withdraw the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate cases against him, if he quit the party.
Triggering a fresh row and further intensifying the face-off between the two parties, AAP's national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said the MLAs -- Ajay Dutt, Sanjeev Jha, Somnath Bharati and Kuldeep Kumar -- have been approached by leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party with whom they have "friendly relations".
Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said it is "a very serious matter" and a meeting of the party's Political Affairs Committee has been convened at his residence at 4 pm to "take stock of the situation and chalk out further strategy".
"They (the four AAP legislators) have been offered Rs 20 crore each if they join the BJP and Rs 25 crore if they bring other MLAs along with them," AAP national spokesperson Singh said.
"They (BJP leaders) told our MLAs that if they do not accept the offer and join the BJP, they will also have to face false cases, the CBI and the ED, like (Delhi Deputy Chief Minister) Manish Sisodia is facing," he added.
Singh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making efforts to bring AAP legislators into the BJP-fold "by hook or by crook" and topple the Kejriwal government.
"Modiji is trying to make AAP MLAs break away from the party and topple the Delhi government by misusing probe agencies, sending his people to offer money to them and threaten them of consequences if they do not switch sides," he said.
Singh claimed that the BJP leaders with whom Dutt, Jha, Bharati and Kumar have "friendly relations" came to meet them with the saffron party's "offer".
"The experiment that was successful (in the case of Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra) and failed in the case of Manish Sisodia is now being tried on our MLAs," he said.
"Shame on you Modiji," Singh said and asked the prime minister to "stop" making such efforts and focus on addressing issues like price rise and unemployment that the country is facing.
AAP MLAs can neither be intimidated nor lured by money for switching sides as they have come out of a "movement", the Rajya Sabha member asserted while referring to the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement of 2011 during the days of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.
The four AAP MLAs who have allegedly been approached by the BJP were also present at the press conference.
Taking to Twitter, Sisodia warned the BJP-led Centre against making efforts to "poach" AAP MLAs by misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and offering money, and said they will "give up" their lives but will not betray their party as they are the "soldiers" of Kejriwal and followers of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
"After they failed to break me, they have started conspiring to make other AAP MLAs break away (from the party) by offering Rs 20 crore to each of them, threatening them of raids," the deputy chief minister said in a tweet in Hindi.
"...they (AAP MLAs) are the soldiers of Arvind Kejriwal and followers of Bhagat Singh," he said, adding, "They will sacrifice their lives but will not betray (the party). Your ED-CBI is of no use in front of them."
The BJP, while rubbishing the allegations, alleged that the Delhi government ignored recommendations of an expert panel set up to reform liquor trade in the national capital and gave licences to companies that paid "hefty commissions" to the AAP.
The saffron party also alleged that the AAP government did not follow the suggestions of its own panel to "gain unfair advantage" in the Punjab polls.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is the "kingpin" of the liquor policy "scam" but he did not sign a single file in an attempt to avoid investigation.
Asked about the AAP's claim that the BJP tried to bribe four of its legislators in Delhi, Patra said: "They may have got such offers from liquor mafia. Why do not they tell the names of persons who approached them?"
The Congress also attacked the AAP over alleged irregularities in Delhi excise policy, saying CM Kejriwal and his deputy should get the Bharat Ratna if there is a new category for corruption.
The Congress alleged that "Kejriwal and company" have traversed the distance from honesty and transparency to corruption, in a very short span of time.