With Arvind Kejriwal wholly focused on winning upcoming assembly elections in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat, many are wondering who will run the Delhi government for the next one and a half years. Kejriwal himself has for all practical purposes shifted to Punjab. A party supporter has loaned him a huge bungalow on a half acre plot in Jalandhar where the Delhi chief minister will be based till the election is over sometime in Feb-March 2017. AAP sources said they don’t expect Kejriwal to pay more than fleeting visits to Delhi over the next six months.
The number two man in the Delhi government, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, and the number three man, health minister Satyendra Jain, are in charge of the election in Goa, due at the same time as the one in Punjab. So they too will be otherwise pre-occupied even if they don’t shift lock, stock and barrel the way Kejriwal has done.
The fourth senior man in the Delhi government, culture and tourism minister Kapil Misra, has been told to handle the Gujarat assembly election which is due at the end of 2017. This is the most crucial of all the assembly polls coming up next year as Gujarat is Narendra Modi&’s home state and a lot is at stake here. So Misra too will be very busy.
Ask AAP leaders who will govern Delhi and pat comes the answer: the Lt Governor. A recent Delhi High Court order is proving to be a convenient alibi for Kejriwal and his aides to shrug off responsibility for administering the Capital while they are away fighting on the election battle front. The order stated that Delhi continues to be a Union Territory despite having an assembly and a chief minister. It reinforced the Lt Governor&’s position as the ultimate authority. In other words, the LG is the boss and Kejriwal a mere flunkey and chief minister only in name. While the ruling may be legally sound, such technicalities make a mockery of democracy. After all, Kejriwal and his AAP won a thumping mandate from the people of Delhi in 2015, bagging 67 of the Capital&’s 70 assembly seats. The confrontation between Kejriwal and the Modi government right from the start has left Delhi without an accountable administration.
Out in a jiffy
There&’s more than meets the eye to the controversy surrounding sacked AAP minister Sandeep Kumar. According to well-placed sources in the AAP camp, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been annoyed with Sandeep Kumar for some time. Specifically, he has been annoyed with the former minister since a corruption allegation against him surfaced some months ago.
When the allegation was brought to Kejriwal&’s notice, he wanted to remove Sandeep Kumar immediately. But close aides of the Delhi chief minister prevailed on him not to do anything. Their reasoning was as follows. The allegation had not reached the public domain. It was an internal matter, known only to some members of the party. These aides also said that the allegation was at the level of an accusation that Sandeep Kumar had negotiated a money deal. No transaction had actually taken place and there was no money trail to Sandeep Kumar. Thirdly, the aides felt that sacking the minister would harm the AAP government&’s image since it would be the third sacking in a little over one year.
Since Kejriwal was already annoyed with Sandeep Kumar, when the sex video surfaced, it did not take him long to make up his mind to get rid of the minister. The decision was taken a meeting that lasted just 30 minutes, making it probably the fastest political sacking ever.
30 or more?
With BJP president Amit Shah welcoming any and every defector from other parties in UP, old BJP hands are worried that they may be done out of tickets to contest next year&’s state polls.
They have apparently complained to RSS bosses about this and asked them to intervene. The RSS has set a limit of 30 for “outsiders”. BJP sources said that the Sangh has requested Shah to ensure that no more than 30 “outsiders” get BJP tickets to contest the assembly election.
But Shah is believed to have been noncommittal in his response. He wants to win UP by hook or by crook, even if it means fielding new entrants who have come from rival parties. He has already inducted 12 “outsiders”, four from the BSP, five from the SP and three from the Congress. They include sitting and ex-MLAs and party functionaries. BJP sources say he has his eyes on several others in all three parties. His aides are in talks with them. The bait is a BJP ticket. Old timers say that a rebellion may be brewing in the saffron ranks if more “outsiders” are brought in.