By Sushil Kutty
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is in a fix has put the Enforcement Directorate in a fix. Issued summons to present himself for questioning, Kejriwal has told the ED to take a walk, stating that he has to campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party of which he’s convener. With five assembly elections and the 2024 general elections thereafter, Kejriwal’s campaign plate is full. The AAP and the INDI-Alliance cannot be crippled with ED raids, ED questioning and ED arrests of top opposition leaders.
So Kejriwal chose to skip the ED summons. The CBI would have landed “home” and taken Kejriwal away, but the ED takes pride in being civil in its approach. That being said, the Delhi Liquor Scam isn’t a simple case of catching the robber and being done with it. Also, Kejriwal knows what happened to Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh post-summons.
The Delhi Chief Minister has called the ED summons “illegal and politically motivated” and that the Modi government has weaponized the ED for political ends. For a decade, the ED has been in lock-step with the Modi government. Today, the Centre cannot fathom how to catch hold of the alleged kingpin of the alleged Delhi Liquor Policy Scam.
After AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was sent summons and arrested, Arvind Kejriwal has a heightened extra-sensory perception. The politician with “anarchy in his eyes” will make the ED sleuths work their pants off before letting them corner him into arrest. Point is, the ED is talking of a second summons. What does the law have to say about that? Kejriwal could have taken the court route to avoid the summons, but he chose to be proclaimed offender.
How many ED summons can Kejriwal skip? At some point, he will run out of reasons. The Supreme Court is involved and the top court has made some very pertinent observations. It was at the Supreme Court’s instance that the AAP was made an accused in the case. The Aam Aadmi Party cannot take the ED summons lightly.
The AAP’s reasoning that the summons to Kejriwal is “illegal and politically motivated” – sent at the behest of the BJP – will not weigh in court, not after the Supreme Court’s observations. Kejriwal will have to find somebody else to campaign for AAP if he lands in jail. The demand that the Enforcement Directorate should withdraw the notice immediately has been rejected.
Kejriwal’s problem is, if he is out of the AAP scene for more than a week, the AAP will transform into something he never envisaged. Running Delhi from Tihar is not like Satyender Jain running Delhi’s jails from Tihar. Who will be Delhi’s Chief Minister if Kejriwal is behind bars? The AAP will get into a fratricidal war. There are several aspirants who fancy their chances of replacing Kejriwal at the helm. The AAP convener’s wife is a choice, other than that who?
From the looks of it, Arvind Kejriwal is apprehensive that if he lands up at the ED, he will be arrested and jailed. Nobody can fault him for believing so. Especially when everybody knows that the AAP government actually doesn’t require Kejriwal at its head. Arvind Kejriwal didn’t handle any portfolio and he never put his signature to any Delhi government document. The Delhi government ran in spite and despite of his presence or absence.
Arvind Kejriwal in jail wouldn’t break the monotony of the Delhi government. There are many claimants to his throne. Atishi Marlena, Raghav Chadda, Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann… Any of them can take control of AAP. Kejriwal fears this more than he fears Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s machinations.
Besides, Arvind Kejriwal in jail is not the same as Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh in jail. If AAP is proven guilty as accused, AAP and Kejriwal will take the taint to the end of time if the people don’t forget them long before the end of time. Arvind Kejriwal has been calling himself and his ministers “kattar imandaar”. If he goes to jail on proven corruption charges, it will be his political death. Kejriwal will lose hold of AAP, Delhi and Punjab all at once, together.
Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann will be campaigning in Madhya Pradesh for the next couple of days. Can INDI-Alliance afford the uncertainty surrounding Kejriwal? He will address election rallies and stage roadshows. “I am required to travel for campaigning and to provide political guidance to my field workers. As the CM of Delhi, I have governance and official commitments. My presence is required, particularly in view of Diwali…Please recall the said summons” was Kejriwal’s response to the ED summons.
The Delhi Chief Minister fears what his arrest entails. Applying for anticipatory bail will tantamount to admitting to the charges levelled against him – that he is the kingpin of the alleged Delhi liquor scam. ED questioning will be followed by confrontations with other accused and accused-turned-approvers. Being an ex-revenue service officer, Kejriwal knows the drill too well to take the risk of cooperating with men and women who also know the drill all too well. (IPA Service)