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Thursday, July 18, 2024, 12:06 am

Thursday, July 18, 2024, 12:06 am

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Staying in the Headlines, whether for the right or wrong reasons.  

Staying in the Headlines
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Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, is adept at staying in the headlines, whether for the right or wrong reasons. With his purported “directives” to his cabinet colleagues, Kejriwal has made sure he is the main story in the media ten days after being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on suspicion of corruption in the liquor scandal. These are, of course, cliches used by the AAP leaders to curry favor with the beleaguered leader. It appears the nation’s capital isn’t overly bothered about the arrest based on the lackluster response to his apprehension and the events that followed. The AAP government’s previously vaunted anti-corruption campaign had already begun to fade due to a slew of reported frauds and a deep-rooted tendency to place the blame elsewhere for its actions. He is currently the focus of a corruption scheme. There are several charges that are public knowledge, aside from the booze excise scheme that landed him and a few former government colleagues in jail. Also under investigation is the way in which regulations were broken in order to remove more than Rs 50 crore from the government account to fund the Chief Minister’s opulent residence. The deputy of Anna Hazare against corruption is embroiled in a number of shady issues. But what is really concerning is that he has chosen not to adhere to the established practice of a chief minister quitting either before or right away after being arrested. Before being taken into custody in instances involving corruption, J Jayalalitha, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and, more recently, Hemant Soren, were all cautious to resign. Still, the AAP’s anti-corruption messiah holds onto the chief minister’s position and says he would lead the government from prison. It was difficult to conceive of a more absurd scenario. Though the founding authors may not have envisioned someone such as Kejriwal holding constitutional positions, common sense makes it clear that such a move would be a farce of the document, even if the Constitution remains mute on the subject. Kejriwal has an easy choice: unless he is cleared of all charges related to corruption, he should designate his successor. His natural inclination might have been to appoint his wife as chief minister, even if he was anxious about not developing a backup plan. He ought not to think twice.

After being incarcerated in connection with the fodder scandal, Lalu Yadav designated his wife Rabri Devi as his successor. Sunita, a veteran IRS officer, is Kejriwal’s spouse and can lead the Delhi government until he is cleared of any wrongdoing in the liquor excise scandal. As it is, large pictures of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh are opportunistically hanging in the background while his wife reads aloud notes that Kejriwal is purported to have smuggled out of jail. Even while Kejriwal investigates potential legal avenues for his release, government operations in the nation’s capital cannot be in suspended animation indefinitely. It is unclear how the courts can grant an exemption in Kejriwal’s case, considering that the other accused parties in the case have been granted bail despite spending several months behind bars. To replace Kejriwal as chief minister is, therefore, the only option available to the AAP.

The federal government shouldn’t rush to put the president’s rule into effect. It is impossible to manage the government from jail, according to Lieutenant Governor Vinai Saxena. He ought to resist the urge to attempt to take control of it from the LG House, though. Let its future move be decided by the AAP parliamentary party. The Delhi Assembly Speaker may be asked in writing by the LG to choose a new leader. He needs to consider that option even in the event that the Speaker chooses not to follow his instructions. Seeking a judicial remedy is the alternative.  Resolving the constitutional crisis should be standard procedure given the higher judiciary’s willingness to delve into issues that were previously solely legislative and executive in nature. To keep the Constitution from being mocked, it would be okay to order the AAP MLAs to choose a new leader under pain of the President’s rule. The only other choice is to let Kejriwal continue the untenable situation in the Capital for as long as he pleases, making a mockery of the Constitution in the process. To impose the President’s rule, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi should never take the initiative. It’s up to 62 of the 70 AAP MLAs in the Delhi Assembly to figure out how to get out of a sticky situation that they themselves created.

 Abhishek Verma

Editor, Canon Times


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