By Sushil Kutty
Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal is bound for prison. The Delhi Chief Minister is reconciled to his fate. The enforcement directorate will question him, arrest him and put him behind bars, period. There are no two ways about it. Kejriwal has convinced himself and he has also convinced his flock of Delhi MLAs, including his Council of Ministers, that what will be, will be. In fact, Kejriwal cannot avoid prison is the buzz in AAP circles of Delhi and Punjab.
And just so that Kejriwal doesn’t fall for any last minute change of mind, Delhi’s AAP MLAs have all given an assurance to Kejriwal that he will remain Chief Minister even after he starts spending nights in the Tihar. Yes, AAP has come to the consensus that Delhi will be run from Tihar once Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal submits himself to the machinations of the enforcement directorate.
Without doubt, Kejriwal has been thinking of an impending rendezvous with the Tihar for a long time and, even if he fought the thought when the summons finally landed, he is now resigned to wearing the mantle of a jailbird. How many Chief Ministers actually get the chance to be a “political POW”, following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru? Make no mistake, Arvind Kejriwal will make the best use of his newfound notoriety.
Among politicians, the AAP convener is a class act. Kejriwal met his MLA mates in the Delhi assembly and discussed his impending arrest. There was a show of solidarity. The AAP legislators swore allegiance to the Chief Minister who has steadfastly refused to hold any portfolio or sign an official document. Arvind Kejriwal is the only figurehead Chief Minister in all of India, but he also happens to be a Chief Minister his voters have complete faith in.
The massive mandates with which Delhi and Punjab voted for AAP is an indication of Kejriwal’s acceptance to the general public. In fact, if anyone scares the BJP, and the Congress, it is Kejriwal with his ability to score completely one-sided election victories. So, when Kejriwal claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to get rid of the Kejriwal threat, it is hard fact.
Not just the BJP, the Congress too would like the Delhi Chief Minister consigned safely behind bars. The Congress has been in Delhi’s political wilderness ever since Kejriwal swept Delhi off its feet with the AAP broom. The ragtag AAP against the GOP. Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, if and when it happens, will be a setback to the INDI-Alliance, but the Congress will get over the setback quickly.
And Kejriwal will be in the company of close confidantes Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh with the likelihood of more colleagues joining them. As it is, ‘arrest’ has become the default status of AAP politicians, the latest being Jaswant Singh Gajjanmajra, legislator from Amargarh, who was arrested by the ED after he chose to buck the ED summons.
A similar fate could befall Kejriwal if he rejects a second and a third summons. Kejriwal doesn’t have the luxury of skipping more than three summons. Therefore, the meeting with his MLAs to chalk out strategy. The Delhi Chief Minister cannot campaign for AAP after his arrest. Arvind Kejriwal can do a lot of things from behind bars including administering Delhi from Tihar but electioneering is one thing that he cannot.
What if Kejriwal doesn’t get bail and has to remain in jail for as long as Manish Sisodia has been behind bars? The November 6 meeting in the Delhi assembly considered all aspects of a likely Kejriwal arrest and came to the conclusion that AAP was the “biggest troublemaker” for the BJP and, therefore, preparations must be on to arrest Kejriwal.
The BJP fears Kejriwal and wants him removed. The MLAs at the meeting said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will continue to run Delhi from jail as votes were cast in his name. There is nothing in the statute book that says that a government cannot be run from jail. So Arvind Kejriwal will remain Chief Minister. Officers will meet him in jail. Cabinet ministers will also meet him in jail. And if all the ministers are arrested, the government will run from jail. AAP MLAs who are outside jail will implement the decisions.
The people of Delhi have caught on to the BJP game-plan and the feedback is that the people have had enough of the BJP’s hanky-panky. This was why all the AAP MLAs asked Kejriwal to continue to be Chief Minister even if he was arrested and jailed. The people of Delhi have voted for him and he will remain CM. There was nothing immoral or improper about it.
The fact, however, is Arvind Kejriwal is pretty paranoid about losing the Delhi Chief Minister’s chair. He could have chosen to become Punjab Chief Minister and, perhaps, escaped today’s predicament. But for somebody who aspires to become Prime Minister, Delhi is the springboard. That being said, the longer he remains behind bars, the more the chances the MLAs will lose interest in a jailbird and promises made to him. (IPA Service)