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HAS KEJRIWAL’S POLITICAL CAREER COME TO AN END?: Dr CHANDRA

Revealing how the Enforcement Directorate played an extremely patient role in handling matters related to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Dr Jagdeesh Chandra explains how the Chief Minister’s political career may have taken one step closer to coming to a halt, what caused Anna Hazare’s heartbreak, why AAP’s leader from Punjab lost love for Kejriwal, why ED issued nine summons and was on way to issue a tenth and why Kejriwal will not be able to run the government from behind bars. Excerpts.....

  • Has Arvind Kejriwal’s political career come to an end with his arrest?
    Dr Jagdeesh Chandra:
    It surely appears like that. However, it is also said for politicians that till the time a politician is alive, one cannot make any predictions about their future. For example, Narasimha Rao had decided to sit at home and made a sudden return to take the helm of the nation. No one has seen the future. Moreover, Manish Sisodia is behind bars, and the manner in which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has made this case up, with its successful prosecution rate of 90– 95 per cent, on that basis, I don’t think anyone can come out of jail before a decade. And even if he stays inside for five years, the future of the political party would not be as vibrant. So we can say that the first phase of Kejriwal’s career has come to a grand halt. Now it all depends on his fate, luck, and what view the Supreme Court takes on the matter. Till the time he is behind bars, there is no future for him or the party. And the track record of ED cases also points to the impossibility of Kejriwal coming out of jail anytime soon, like Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, and Satyendra Jain. So in such a situation, one can say that his political career has moved towards an end.
  • What is your take on Anna Hazare’s statement about his student, Arvind Kejriwal?
    It is the pain in his heart that has come out. Anna was Kejriwal’s Guru, who taught him politics and showed him the path of politics. Remember the massive public meetings that used to happen in Delhi? Anna Hazare used to give a clarion call regarding ending corruption from the platform of these meetings, and perhaps he never thought that his own student would be caught for corruption. So Anna tweeted that he taught him and that it was their resolve to bring Swaraj and that they used to talk about banning liquor, so he has been arrested today for his own actions. So this tweet is the pain that has come out of Anna, and it is very unfortunate for him.
  • And what about Ravneet Singh Bittu’s remark regarding the Punjab government?
    He is also on the same lines as Anna. He was also a supporter of Anna at one point in time and he has said that Kejriwal used to talk about Lokpal, etc. He has even gone to length to say that now he thinks Kejriwal is a thug. He has used harsh words in expressing himself. Furthermore, he has also said that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Politicians have been arrested in the past, but it has happened for the first time that a sitting Chief Minister has been arrested...
    See, Soren was arrested but he tendered his resignation, However, Kejriwal was arrested right from his home without resignation. Unfortunately, but what could have been done? When a person does not even bow before the law, does not appear before ED, so till when will the law keep mum? Basically, the law of the land is taking its course in this case. Secondly, they had taken the High Court route, but they lost in the High Court as well. The High Court also made the observation by asking who had asked not to arrest him. So if such an observation comes, then it becomes impossible for any official of ED or otherwise to stop the arrest, especially when you have already formed the case and have issued a summons for him. So law of the land will take its own course and the law does not differentiate whether you are a CM or a commoner. That is what has happened in this case.
  • Why didn’t Kejriwal appear before the ED even though the agency issued nine summons to him?
    This is also bizarre. Generally, ED does not give so much time in taking action but in this case, the agency gave a huge slack to Kejriwal. Just imagine, the tenth summon was on its way after no response was given on the first nine summons. This was Kejriwal’s mistake. He should have gone and appeared before the ED in all humility. If ED arrested him, then the court’s route would have been open for bail. But he did not go. Since the tenth summon was also on its way, perhaps ED officials would have waited longer. But the court gave its observation which the agency had to comply with. So it can be said that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) exhibited extreme patience in this case, but that patience inevitably reached its limit. The High Court’s decision accelerated this breaking point, leading to Kejriwal’s arrest. Officials do not like arresting people on constitutional positions but they had to because it was Court’s orders. First, you do not appear before the agency and do not give a reply, then you move High Court and the Court gives a decision that goes against you. Then what other option does ED have with itself? Therefore, a joint Director level officer was sent and not any SP or Dy SP.
  • AAP has claimed that Kejriwal will not resign and will run the government from jail. Is that even possible?
    See, such a thing does not actually happen. This is just motivated party workers making statements. Such a thing does not happen. He should have responded to the summons. Now he should resign from the post in all humility, call the meeting of the legislative party, choose a new leader, hand them the power, sit in jail and after a few days when the CM comes to meet him in jail, then he can give the direction that he wants. But to say that I will run the government sitting in jail, does not look like a possibility, and neither does it appear to be democratic. Perhaps there may not be a legal ban on such a situation, but democratically, it does not suit the status of CM. So I do not think this will happen.
  • So, if suppose Kejriwal does not resign, will that mean the President’s rule will be imposed in Delhi?
    There are fewer chances of that happening reason being that he won’t resign, and then the matter will go to court and then to the Supreme Court. But I believe that the SC too must be feeling a little let down since nowadays every second non-political issue is being taken to the Apex Court. Had the BJP got enough legislators in its kitty, perhaps it could have got onethird of MLAs over from AAP and formed a government but that would not happen. At the most what can happen is that Kejriwal can be dismissed by the Lieutenant Governor and if such a situation occurs, then he will bow down and prefer to install another leader of his choice as CM. As of now, I don’t see any possibility of President’s Rule in Delhi. Moreover, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah carry out their political work gracefully and since this is election time, I don’t think there will be a possibility of President’s Rule the way the situation stands right now.
  • Not much crowd was observed near ITO Chowk and the Court premises. Does it mean that Kejriwal’s popularity is on the decline now?
    Isn’t that apparent? A few people from Punjab had come to Delhi and there was a possibility that about 50,000 people would come to national capital, but nothing of that sort happened. There were only a handful of people where the bail hearing was conducted. At most there may have been 500 odd people or perhaps some more, but this was the hearing of a sitting Chief Minister and this number is paltry for such a post. So, in effect, it seems that ED’s action has received general public consensus and support. This means there is no major rebellion among the people on this action. So of course, his graph is declining.
  • Will Kejriwal’s arrest have an impact on Lok Sabha elections on seats of Delhi and Punjab?
    It won’t have any major impact. Today the voters are extremely vigilant and knowledgeable and they cast their vote of their own volition. Their supporters will obviously vote for them and there was a possibility that Congress and AAP may contest together and win a few seats. But on the other hand there is Narendra Modi, the Ram Lalla card and the overall political situations in the nation are in Modi’s favour. In such a situation, it was already difficult for them to win 2-3 seats, but now with such a huge crackdown, I don’t think AAP and Congress together would win a substantial number of seats. So, Kejriwal’s arrest will have a negative impact on AAP’s victory in Delhi or Punjab. Had Kejriwal been arrested after the election, he would have got political benefit out of it but I don’t think in prevailing situations these parties would get any benefit.

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