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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Aam Aadmi Party in 'state of chaos'

Both Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain resigned from cabinet after former was sent to five days' CBI custody on Tuesday

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 02.03.23, 02:48 AM
Manish Sisodia

Manish Sisodia File picture

The AAP “was in a state of chaos” after the resignations of jailed ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain on Tuesday, a party functionary has told The Telegraph.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI in the liquor policy case on February 26 and Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last year. Both resigned from the cabinet after Sisodia was sent to five days' CBI custody on Tuesday. Their resignations were forwarded by the lieutenant governor to the President on Tuesday night.

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“There was a state of chaos yesterday. Manish resigning can be construed as an acceptance that he does not expect to get bail after his police custody ends on March 4. There could still be a justification for him resigning as we would need someone to handle finance in order to present the budget. No such justification exists for Satyendar-ji resigning,” said the AAP source.

At 6pm on Tuesday, government sources told reporters that the duo had resigned. Around 6.45pm, reporters were told that no new ministers would be appointed and that incumbent ministers Kailash Gahlot and Raaj Kumar Anand would take over the portfolios of Sisodia and Jain.

At 7.30pm and 7.45pm, two different party spokespersons held separate media conferences saying that two new ministers would be appointed. After 11pm, the fresh portfolio list of Gahlot and Anand were released, and half an hour later it was announced that the party’s intellectual face, Atishi, and chief spokesman Saurabh Bharadwaj would be inducted as ministers.

The source added: “Such reactions send out the message that we aren’t prepared to fight Modi. We should have stood our ground that our ministers are innocent and in jail due to political vendetta. Several party leaders were of the view that just like Satyendar, Manish also should have been retained in the cabinet without portfolio.”

Several AAP leaders had gathered at MLA Durgesh Pathak’s wedding on Tuesday night. Among those who were especially "morose", the source said, was MP Raghav Chadha.

On Wednesday, the Delhi Gazette notified Sisodia and Jain as ministers without portfolios with the former’s work mostly going to Gahlot. Delhi is constitutionally bound to have only up to seven ministers including the chief minister. Atishi and Bharadwaj can be sworn in after the President clears their resignations.

The disarray in Delhi may have had a ripple effect. On Tuesday, the party’s Karnataka vice-president, Bhaskar Rao — a former commissioner of Bangalore police — met BJP leaders and formally joined the party on Wednesday.

“Rao saheb was invited by the chief minister (of Karnataka, Basavaraj Bommai) last year itself. When all the drama happened yesterday, he was on all key party WhatsApp groups and was witness to the confusion. We could have still convinced him not to leave, but after seeing the party in disarray following Manish’s arrest, why would he stay? He has perhaps 10 years of active politics ahead of him, and found the BJP a better bet,” a party source said.

The BJP condemned Atishi’s communist parents, Vijay Singh and Tripta Wahi — associated with the Hoxhaist group Communist Ghadr Party of India.

Delhi BJP spokesman Praveen Shankar Kapoor wrote to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday, saying: “She comes from a family associated with the communist ideology. Her surname Marlena comes from Mar — Marxism — and Lena — from Leninism. From time to time, the country has also seen and heard some of her statements which were soft towards Marxism-Leninism or Naxalism…. It is the right of the people of Delhi and the country that a person who becomes their minister should respect the martyrdom of the martyrs and not be in favour of terrorists.”

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