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Who will replace Kejriwal? Wife Sunita, or ministers Aatishi, Bharadwaj?

Last updated on: March 21, 2024 22:43 IST

The arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the alleged excise policy scam case has posed a leadership crisis question before the Aam Aadmi Party as well as the Delhi government, with his wife Sunita Kejriwal and cabinet ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj being talked about as his possible replacement.

IMAGE: AAP worker being detained outside the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after the Enforcement Directorate team reaches for questioning, in New Delhi, March 21, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

The challenge before the Aam Aadmi Party now is to come up with a worthy leader who could handle both the party and its government in Delhi in absence of Kejriwal.


However, it's indeed a big task for the AAP leadership to come up with a name of a leader that at least comes closer to Kejriwal's stature as convener of the party since its inception in 2012 and holding Delhi Chief Minister's post for three terms spanning nearly a decade.

The urgency of the task becomes even more pressing as the AAP is gearing up to contest the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, Assam and Haryana in which Kejriwal was to be a key campaigner of the party.

Apart from Sunita Kejriwal, a former IRS officer, the names of AAP government ministers Atishi and Bharadwaj too are taking rounds for the post of Delhi chief minister.

Atishi, who holds the maximum number of portfolios in the Delhi government, including education, finance, PWD, revenue and services, is considered close to Arvind Kejriwal.

She is also a frontline spokesperson of the party defending the AAP government and Kejriwal, and attacking the BJP in her regular press conferences and appearances on news channels.

Likewise, Bharadwaj is also a prominent member of the Delhi Cabinet holding several important portfolios including health and urban development.

He, too, is a well known face of the party, often engaged in defending the party and its leaders and counter-attacking the BJP and its government at the Centre on a range of governance-related and political issues.

However, in December last year, the AAP launched a signature campaign 'Mai Bhi Kejriwal', asking people whether he should resign as Delhi chief minister or run the government from jail if arrested.

During the campaign, the AAP supremo also met party MLAs and municipal corporation councilors in Delhi for their feedback on the issue.

Bharadwaj recently told reporters in a press conference, "Nearly 90 per cent of people in this exercise opined that Kejriwal has the mandate of Delhi and he has been elected and hence, only he would run the government in Delhi no matter from where."

The AAP leadership also has to find a replacement of Kejriwal to head the party that runs governments in Delhi and Punjab besides having MLAs in Gujarat and Goa as well.

In this area also, the options of the party are rather limited.

Apart from Sunita Kejriwal, name of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Atishi too are taking rounds as leaders who could hold the responsibility of new AAP national convener.

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