After Manish Sisodia's arrest, immediate challenges before Arvind Kejriwal
The arrest of Manish Sisodia may hamper the AAP's plans to seek a nationwide political footprint by promoting its flagship programmes.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia became the second Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader to be arrested on graft charges following former health minister Satyendar Jain's arrest last year. The arrest of Arvind Kejriwal's most trusted lieutenant, Sisodia, who holds as many as 18 of the total 33 departments, could be a massive setback for the Delhi chief minister's plan to expand the party.
The arrest of Sisodia, the face of Delhi's much-talked-about education model, may hamper the party’s plans to seek a nationwide political footprint by promoting its flagship programmes.
Who will handle the work of 18 departments?
After the arrest of Jain in May last year, Sisodia's responsibilities had also increased. At present, he was handling 18 portfolios, including education and health, in the Delhi government.
However, the biggest setback among all of them is seen in the education department. The AAP has touted him as the “best education minister of India”.
The immediate challenge for Kejriwal is to present the Delhi government budget as scheduled and find Sisodia's replacement. Revenue minister Kailash Gahlot may present the Delhi government budget for the next financial year.
Sisodia looks after 18 departments
According to the Delhi government's websites, there are a total of 33 departments. Of these, Sisodia looks after 18, including health, education, public works department (PWD), services, finance, power, home and urban development. He is also in charge of all other departments not specifically allotted to any minister.
Who holds other portfolios?
Apart from Kejriwal, the Delhi government has six cabinet ministers, including jailed Jain who is still a minister without a portfolio. Jain was arrested by the enforcement directorate last year in connection with a money laundering case.
Environment minister Gopal Rai has only three departments while Imran Hussain is in charge of only two departments - food and civil supplies, and election.
How will the expansion happen?
After forming the government in Punjab after Delhi, now Kejriwal is looking to expand AAP's footprints in other states. In the recently concluded Gujarat assembly election, the AAP was successful in winning five seats in Gujarat. There are reports that Kejriwal has also been preparing to visit Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan next month.
The CBI on Sunday evening arrested Sisodia, who is close to Kejriwal, in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 after nearly eight hours of questioning.
This was the second round of questioning of Sisodia after the agency registered a case on August 17 last year. He was quizzed on October 17 last year. Kejriwal termed the arrest "dirty politics" and asserted that his deputy was innocent.
Manish is innocent. His arrest is dirty politics. It has angered people quite a lot. People are watching everything. People now understand everything and will give a reply to this. It will boost our spirit and our struggle will only get stronger," Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.