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When Will Kejriwal Government Fall?

April 11, 2024 09:16 IST

For someone who is such an indefatigable litigant, what is stopping Mr Saxena from using the law to depose Mr Kejriwal?
Maybe we will get the answer after May 25, notes Aditi Phadnis.

IMAGE: Delhi ministers, Delhi's mayor and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders hold a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, April 7, 2024 over Delhi Chief Minister and AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal's arrest in the alleged excise policy case. Photograph: Amit Sharma/ANI Photo

Will the Delhi government be dismissed before May 25 or after? This is really the only question.

Delhi will have Lok Sabha elections on that day.

Taking any action before then could affect the Bharatiya Janata Party's chances of winning the Delhi seats.

Equally, the longer the war of taunts between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, now behind bars, and Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena carries on, the longer Mr Kejriwal will have to prove his point that he is a political prisoner of a repressive regime, not the corrupt scamster the BJP claims he is.

Every other day, a 'directive' or a 'decision' taken by the chief minister from jail is announced by his colleagues outside.

In response, the LG has asserted that "Delhi government jail se nahin chalegi" (the Delhi government will not be run from jail).

Let us be clear.

It is within the remit of the lieutenant governor of Delhi, under Article 239 AA and AB of the Constitution, to inform the President of India that a situation has arisen in which the administration of the National Capital Territory cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and recommend dismissal.

What's taking him so long? The Aam Aadmi Party has no Lok Sabha MP from Delhi. The BJP has all seven.

The real target of the Union government, represented by the LG, is to undermine the credibility of the state government: Normally the job of the state unit of the party.

But Vinai Kumar Saxena is perfectly placed to carry out this task.

He was appointed LG in 2022, having previously been made Khadi and Village Industries Commission chairman in 2015.

Originally from Kanpur, he began his career as an assistant officer in a private company in Rajasthan before shifting to Gujarat in 1995 as general manager of the Dholera Port project, being developed by Adani Ports and J K White Cement.

He was not only made chief executive officer but was elevated as director of the project.

From 2000 till today, Mr Saxena has had a bugbear: Medha Patkar.

In the 1990s, when the Narmada Bachao Andolan agitation against raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam, led by activists Baba Amte and Medha Patkar, was at its peak, Mr Saxena formed a non-government organisation, the National Council for Civil Liberties.

He began by publishing articles and issuing paid advertisements against Ms Patkar's activities in which he alleged she was anti-national and was receiving funding from dubious foreign sources.

Ms Patkar's demands were simple: Raising the height of the dam would undoubtedly provide water to many thirsty Gujarat and Rajasthan regions. But it would also inundate the land of hundreds and thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh, which needed to be rehabilitated before the height of the dam was raised and the catchment area expanded.

Whatever the merits of the arguments, the Narmada Bachao Andolan became, for a time, a bad word in Gujarat as then chief minister Narendra Modi went from pillar to post, seeking support for his stance.

Mr Saxena picked up the gauntlet on the state government's behalf and fought cases against Ms Patkar.

She in turn filed defamation cases, which are still going on.

IMAGE: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, left, and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after inaugurating the engineered landfill site at Tehkhand in New Delhi, March 12, 2024. Photograph: Amit Sharma/ANI Photo

Mr Saxena's NGO was the one that filed a police complaint against public intellectual Ashis Nandy, alleging that an article written by Mr Nandy after the 2007 assembly elections had projected the state in 'a bad light' and 'promoted communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims'.

Mr Nandy contended that the FIR was registered out of mala fide intention and was aimed at penalising him for expressing his bona fide views.

As the Gujarat police moved to arrest him, it was the Supreme Court that finally gave Mr Nandy relief in 2011.

Cut to July 2022, when acting on then Delhi chief secretary Naresh Kumar's report, Mr Saxena referred the liquor excise scam issue to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Under Mr Saxena, KVIC was corporatised and earned profits. But its mandate was that its employees must be committed lifetime wearers of khadi.

Under his leadership, KVIC signed agreements with major textile brands such as Raymonds and Arvind Mills to market khadi.

For the first time, in 2017, companies such as Fab India and Web sites Amazon and Flipkart were slapped with legal notices for trademark violation because KVIC argued the fabric these outlets were selling as khadi was not khadi at all and 'had no label or tag issued by KVIC'.

For someone who is such an indefatigable litigant, what is stopping Mr Saxena from using the law to depose Mr Kejriwal?

Maybe we will get the answer after May 25.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

Aditi Phadnis
Source: source image