By Sushil Kutty
“I’m sorry if I offended you.” That would have been Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia talking to himself after his arrest by the CBI in what’s come to be known as the Delhi liquor policy scam. Actually, Sisodia should practice saying, “I’m sorry I got caught.” True, it’s innocent till proven guilty; but the flip side is equally grim in people’s perception: Guilty till proven otherwise.
The story so far does not give a halo around Sisodia’s glistening pate. A picture of Sisodia being taken to court shows him in the backseat of a CBI vehicle, smiling broadly like he had just won the Lotto! The problem for the CBI is that it still hasn’t fixed the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister to a credible money trail reeking of alcohol. There’s not a whiff of Whisky, Rum, Vodka or Gin on Sisodia, the man smells like an after-shave ad.
February 28, the Supreme Court was about to hear the case post-lunch. If Sisodia walked out of court on his own steam, then it would be on steady feet. The Supreme Court is known to surprise; especially with the current CJI DY Chandrachud. People have woken up to this new reality, which many say is ‘woke’, others a whiff of fresh air.
Back to Sisodia, the Deputy Chief Minister is indispensable to the Kejriwal government; he’s the only minister in all of India, in any government, with more portfolios than can be counted on the fingers of both hands. But ever since the New York Times did a hit piece on the Modi regime by highlighting Sisodia for his stellar role as Delhi’s Education Minister, people have forgotten that he’s also, besides ‘Shiksha Mantri’, ‘Dilli Ka Sharab Mantri’.
So, who has the Centre’s caged parrot taken into custody? The ‘Sharab Mantri’, or the world’s best ‘Education Minister’? The Aam Aadmi Party cannot stop repeating that Sisodia’s arrest is tantamount to putting the bulldozer to Delhi’s rise as the education capital of India, forget everything else taught to you in school.
And learning from recent experience, distraught AAP politicians are making outlandish talk to free Sisodia from the BJP dungeon, with the youngest being the most outrageous. Believe it or not, one clean-shaven young AAP bigwig has said that Manish Sisodia will be sprung out of CBI custody just like the Khalistani Amrutpal Singh sprung Lovepreet ‘Toofan’ out of Punjab’s Ajnala police station.
Maybe, the Modi government should take notice. Maybe, like most CBI cases against politicians, this one too will go bust. Maybe, the BJP celebrations are premature. This isn’t Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena. This is Arvind Kejriwal, and the AAP. And Sisodia is not Sanjay Raut. Sisodia’s arrest triggered protests across India, proving once and for all that AAP is a full-fledged national party.
With the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam, the Modi government is targeting two political parties with national ambitions. One, the AAP. And the other, KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which has its headquarters in Delhi since December 14, 2022. True to character, Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn’t the democrat he tells the world he is. A new kid on the block will not be tolerated. And here are two!
Meanwhile, there’s speculation dogging Manish Sisodia. As it is, even AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal. How’s it that the Chief Minister is so squeaky clean but his ministers with dirty linen below their steel mail? Whether it be Satyender Jain, or Manish Sisodia, the party born out of revolution, and fighting corruption, is sending confusing and convoluted signals.
The BJP’s goal is to finish off AAP; exterminate it from the face of ‘Bharat Mata’, and that requires Kejriwal’s hide. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is a ‘catch’, definitely, but getting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s scalp will be the ‘kill’. People do wonder how come Sisodia has portfolio-galore while Arvind Kejriwal does nothing but talk, and mostly not walk the talk.
This is when there’s also talk that Manish Sisodia will, like Satyender Jain ahead of him, continue to be minister resident in jail. If so, this is one for the Limca Book if not the Guinness! And does anybody get the feeling that both Jain and Sisodia could have “enough” on them to make things difficult for Chief Minister Kejriwal?
A huge section of the Delhi electorate voted for AAP, not once but again, and again; and again. Punjab voted heavily for AAP. Gujarat voted to make AAP a “national party”, and Delhi’s grassroots voted AAP in the Delhi-MCD elections.
The story as it stands is that the BJP cannot tolerate that AAP just won’t give up Delhi; and that the Delhi voter keeps voting AAP. Narendra Modi is Prime Minister of India, but his writ does not run in Delhi! It was Delhi’s Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya who told Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban, “Hanooz Dilli Dur Ast” (Delhi is yet far away). Could it be that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Sultan Ghiyasuddin of our times? (IPA Service)