Arvind Kejriwal arrested ahead of Lok Sabha, assembly polls: 5 key challenges


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Now, if he steps down as the chief minister, the crisis will grip Delhi’s governance as well. Although AAP leaders say that there will be “no problems in running the (Delhi) government from jail,” legal experts beg to differ.

Moreover, the Lok Sabha elections 2024 are around the corner. The AAP will be contesting the polls in alliance with the Congress in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Chandigarh and Goa. Kejriwal’s party is also part of the Opposition’s INDIA bloc.

ALSO READ: From an anti-graft crusader to a CM behind bars: The political journey of Arvind Kejriwal in 5 points

Here’s a look at the key challenges before Kejriwal, his party AAP and his government in Delhi:

1. Challenges to governance in Delhi

A. ‘Running government from jail not that easy’

AAP leader Sandeep Pathak has said he doesn’t think there’ll be any difficulty in running the government from jail.

However, Sunil Gupta, a former law officer from Delhi’s Tihar jail, told NDTV that running a government from jail is not that easy. He said a chief minister has to attend several meetings with officers and governors and has to visit people at times. However, “the jail manual says that a prisoner can meet his family, friends or anyone just twice a week”, he said. This makes the process difficult.

Keeping this situation in view, Gupta suggested an easier way to run the government while remaining in custody/jail. Citing jail rules, he said that any area can be declared a jail. It can be a house or even a stadium. The power is in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor (Vinai Kumar Saxena) to declare any building a jail.

Now, the question is — will the authorities allow this to happen? VK Saxena and Kejriwal’s government have been at loggerheads on several occasions. It was VK Saxena who recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Delhi government’s excise policy. He had also called for a CBI probe into alleged irregularities involving fake lab tests and ‘ghost patients’ at Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics (AAMCs).

In this scenario, what will happen to the AAP’s claim that Kejriwal will run the government from jail is yet to be seen.

B. Choosing the next Delhi CM

The demand for Kejriwal’s resignation as the chief minister has grown ever since he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate. In case Kejriwal steps down as the CM, the hunt for the next CM will commence. All the key leaders of the AAP — Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain — are currently in jail in connection with the excise policy case.

2. Party leadership issue

Arvind Kejriwal has been the face of the AAP across the nation. Under his leadership, the party achieved national status and secured a landmark victory in the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections. He has also been a key leader in the Opposition’s INDIA bloc. Now, who will lead the Aam Aadmi Party? Will Kejriwal reign as the party chief from inside the jail or move to appoint a new national convenor? The question remains unanswered.

3. Kejriwal’s arrest to impact election performance?

The AAP is in power in Delhi and Punjab. The national capital of India is among states and Union Territories which are not ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This makes it important for the party to tackle the current issues, especially when the Lok Sabha elections are around the corner. The assembly elections in Delhi are also slated for 2025.

Notably, Delhi voters have backed the AAP in assembly elections but not in Lok Sabha elections. The party did not win a single seat in Delhi in the 2019 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. All the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi were won by the BJP in the last two general elections.

In contrast, the AAP has been winning state assembly polls in Delhi since 2015. Despite securing an 18 per cent vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP, in the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, had won 62 of the 70 seats, while the BJP won only eight and the Congress none. In 2015, the AAP had won 67 seats in the assembly polls.

When Kejriwal was arrested in 2014 in connection with a defamation case, it didn’t stop the AAP from storming to power in the 2015 assembly polls. So, will the recent arrest impact Arvind Kejriwal’s prospect of winning polls? This year, the AAP is fighting the Lok Sabha elections solo in Punjab but has an alliance with the Congress in Delhi.

Leaders of opposition parties have accused the BJP of using central agencies against opposition leaders in a bid to secure a historic win in the Lok Sabha elections. TKS Elangovan, spokesperson for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was quoted by PTI as saying that the BJP is afraid of total failure in this election.

“They have understood that people’s mindset is against them, so they want to put pressure on the opposition by these activities. People have understood what the BJP is and they will not vote for them,” Elangovan said.

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Published: 23 Mar 2024, 06:11 AM IST


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