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Rediff.com  » News » BJP Wants Kejriwal In Jail For A Long Time

BJP Wants Kejriwal In Jail For A Long Time

By Aditi Phadnis
January 03, 2024 14:29 IST
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If Kejriwal is arrested, it will take very little for Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena to summon a meeting of the assembly, direct it to elect a new leader of the House, and, if it doesn't, dissolve it and impose President's Rule, predicts Aditi Phadnis.

IMAGE: Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party's National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann at a roadshow for the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections in Binaganj, Chachoda, November 8, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

In his autobiography, Lalu Prasad describes the events leading to his arrest in the fodder scam. It was July 1997.

A few weeks earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation had announced it had enough evidence to frame charges against him.

M Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu chief minister in 1997, counselled he should resign.

Then Congress president Sitaram Kesri planted the idea that his (Lalu's) wife, Rabri Devi, could become chief minister instead.

A R Kidwai, then Bihar governor, said he needed someone as chief minister: It would be practically impossible for Lalu to function if the court were to refuse bail and order judicial custody.

'Technically, there was no need for me to resign, but I decided to step down to set norms,' Lalu told his biographer.

 

In September 2014, J Jayalalithaa, who was Tamil Nadu chief minister at that time, was put in jail following her conviction on charges of disproportionate assets. It was a Sunday.

She summoned some of her party colleagues for a meeting over breakfast in jail and advised them to elect a new legislature party leader.

She named O Panneerselvam, who was at the meeting, as her choice.

By contrast, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has let his supporters persuade him that he will -- and can -- run the Delhi government from prison.

Days after the Enforcement Directorate summoned him in the Delhi excise scam, he called a meeting of colleagues who told him he must not quit, thus rendering irrelevant the need to name a successor.

"We will take the court's permission to hold cabinet meetings in jail," said Minister Atishi.

Having already written to the ED that he would not be available for questioning, he travelled to Madhya Pradesh to campaign for Aam Aadmi Party candidates.

In his speech he said: 'I don't know if I will be in (jail) or out when the results come out. You can arrest Kejriwal's body. But how can you arrest Kejriwal's ideas?'

How indeed! But the ED is interested in arresting both the body and the mind and when that happens, it will take very little for Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena to summon a meeting of the assembly, direct it to elect a (new) leader of the House, and, if it doesn't, dissolve it and impose President's Rule.

Delhi houses India's capital. It cannot remain chief minister-less, after all...

On the other hand, AAP might decide discretion is the better part of valour and 'nominate' a successor.

It could be Atishi, who has been handling a lot of the work as minister after minister has wound up in jail.

It could also be Environment Minister Gopal Rai, who is credited widely as being among the more political leaders in AAP.

Both Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia would have been possible choices, but they are already in jail.

What is unlikely to happen if Mr Kejriwal joins them is a pan-Indian uprising in AAP's support.

In fact, there's many an officer who will be crowing silently at the fact that AAP -- which tends to treat bureaucrats with disdain and worse -- has got its just deserts.

On the other hand, there is hardly any doubt that once the case is completed and Mr Kejriwal is still in a position to fight elections, he will be able to re-conquer the heart of Delhi that he still holds.

This is what is irritating the Bharatiya Janata Party -- not just that it has lost a state government to AAP, but that AAP got 13 per cent of the vote in the Gujarat Assembly elections, something even veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel was not able to achieve when he rebelled from the BJP and formed his own party.

AAP has been going from strength to strength, and when it got the status of a national party last year, Mr Kejriwal rubbed it in.

'Unimaginable,' he said. "It is as if ten-and-a-half years ago, when we formed our party, was just yesterday. At that time, no one even thought that the party would get one MLA. And today, in 10 years, AAP has become a national party.'

There is no doubt about AAP's popularity among a class of Delhi voters. In East Vinod Nagar, French is taught as a second language in a government school, along with options to learn German and Spanish.

Some mohalla clinics don't work. But many do. And air conditioned public buses are full of women and children who get to ride them free.

AAP must be held guilty of equivocation on several ideological issues.

One of its ministers ordered the recitation of the Sundar Kand of the Ramayan, presumably at government cost, every week.

The party continues to sponsor pilgrimages to holy places for the elderly at highly subsidised rates.

It couldn't be bothered explaining to voters how it saw the role of the Gujarat government in the remission to those convicted of the rape of Bilquis Bano: Gopal Italia said the move was reprehensible, but Manish Sisodia brushed it aside, saying the party was more concerned about issues of development.

BJP leaders in Delhi say they want Mr Kejriwal put away for a long time.

Only, it is hard to see how they will become the beneficiaries of this vacuum, given the current state of the BJP, which even lost the municipal corporation elections. Little needs to be said about the Congress.

A fog of another kind is going to descend on Delhi. Watch out for it.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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Aditi Phadnis
Source: source
 
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