Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Delhi CM in custody more dangerous than free outside


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Arvind Kejriwal gives a taste of governing behind bars

It’s a no holds barred battle between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BJP. And, says AAP, Arvind Kejriwal behind bars is more dangerous than when he was free and ducking summons. The AAP decided Sunday that a ’Main Bhi Kejriwal’ campaign will be organized. Two, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will not resign. This when the Delhi Chief Minister was being grilled in the “ED lock-up”. The resourceful AAP has found a conduit to get through to Kejriwal-in-the-ED-lock-up.
Kejriwal was arrested in the Delhi excise policy case and his arrest is considered a major success for the Modi government on the eve of the 2024 general elections. The AAP is fighting back. The meeting decided that “ministers, MLAs and the party will continue to take Kejriwal’s orders from jail” was taken Sunday. Question: Can the Modi government stop Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from functioning as a Chief Minister from within the Tihar Jail?
There is no rule that says that he cannot, unless the Modi government does something drastic and perhaps even illegal. Meanwhile, as Kejriwal fights his case and passes his orders from behind bars, the AAP will kick-start the ‘Main Bhi Kejriwal’ throughout Delhi. Delhi is the prize, the seven parliamentary seats of Delhi, which the BJP won in 2014 and 2019 but is nervous about this time. The AAP-Congress alliance is a worry that Delhi might not contribute to the BJP’s “370”, aka “Modi’s Ruse”. The BJP’s list of Delhi candidates tells the story.
And the AAP-Congress seat-sharing deal also brings the INDI-Alliance into play. Auto-rickshaws are in the game carrying “Mai Bhi Kejriwal” stickers on them. March 31 an INDIA Bloc rally would be held. The “maha rally” at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan will see AAP leaders rubbing shoulders with Congress leaders, something not seen ever since the birth of AAP. The order to hold the March 31 “maha rally” came direct from Kejriwal. The Congress has no objections. Ten people from each booth will reach the Ramlila Maidan. There are about 14,000 booths, which makes it a total of 1.5 lakh crowd at the rally, all those present with a black ribbon, protesting “BJP’s conspiracy to arrest Kejriwal and then break AAP”.
The AAP fight-back is all about “Kejriwal in jail is more dangerous than when he was outside jail”. No more pleading, says AAP, “there will be war.” Earlier, we would get orders from Civil Lines, now we will get orders from jail, and we will follow them. Earlier, Kejriwal was busy with governance, and he had made their life difficult. Now, he will have pen and paper with him all the time, just think what will happen to them,” said an AAP leader.
That being said, the BJP is not done with Kejriwal with just his arrest. The saffron party is calling on Arvind Kejriwal to resign with word spreading that no Chief Minister can rule from within a jail. But Kejriwal is issuing orders from Enforcement Directorate custody. Apparently, Kejriwal has a conduit to the outside world and his orders are getting through and are being obeyed.
The second order related to mohalla clinics and was sent to minister in-charge of health Saurabh Bharadwaj. The first one, regarding water supply found its way to Atishi Marlena, minister in-charge for Delhi’s water supply, who was moved to tears by the contents of the letter.
“Arvind Kejriwal ji has sent me a letter and a direction. On reading it, I was in tears. I kept thinking who is this man, who is in prison, but is still thinking about Delhi residents’ water and sewage problems… Only Arvind Kejriwal can do this because he considers himself a family member of Delhi’s 2 crore people,” she said. “I want to tell the BJP, you can arrest Arvind Kejriwal and put him in jail, but you cannot imprison his love and sense of duty for Delhi’s people. Even today, after being arrested, Arvind Kejriwal ji is thinking about the people of Delhi”.
From what is being heard, Kejriwal’s orders are reaching the Delhi chief secretary and other officers. Meaning Kejriwal has time to spare in ED custody to govern Delhi and the ED does not mind. One thing is sure. There is no legal prohibition. And ED regulations are lax. Prison regulations will be even more so. Only conviction can bar Kejriwal from being Chief Minister or legislator.
The Delhi government intends approaching the court for permission to take files to jail and hold Cabinet meetings inside jail. The whole AAP campaign is now to tell voters of Delhi that “we will not let the work for the people of Delhi stop even if the government has to work from jail.” A move will be made to set up a “Chief Minister’s Office” in jail.
“It is not written anywhere that a government cannot function from jail,” AAP leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said. For twice in three days, Kejriwal’ orders got through to his cabinet colleagues with instructions that matter in administering Delhi affairs. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has found a conduit, who?
Also, the messages convey that the “people’s chief minister” is positively worried about Delhi’s ailing citizens and there are tens of thousands of them, mostly poor folks, those living in slum-like settlements and for whom the Mohalla clinics are the only health-lines to surviving the harsh life of the national capital. Bharadwaj, who had never before cared to enquire about the health of Delhiites, is suddenly desperate about blood tests and dialysis. And Atishi Marlena cannot be more bothered about Delhi’s water needs than ever before.
There was a gap of two days between Kejriwal’s first and second orders. “Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issued his second order from inside the Enforcement Directorate’s lock-up.” Obviously, the man is being grilled by the ED sleuths and he can do the ordering and the administering only in the gaps between the episodes of “grilling”. The Delhi Chief Minister has friends in the oddest of places. (IPA Service)


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