Editorial: Options Limited For AAP

Editorial: Options Limited For AAP

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Tuesday, April 02, 2024, 09:59 PM IST
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Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal | File Pic

The Supreme Court has granted bail to Sanjay Singh, MP, who has been in jail since last October in what has come to be known as the excise policy scam. It comes as a silver lining on the dark horizon for the Aam Aadmi Party, whose leader, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, was remanded to judicial custody till April 15 just a day earlier. The court took note of the fact that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has not been able to produce any evidence that the MP took a bribe worth several crores of rupees, despite multiple raids. That is why the agency did not object to his bail. It is now nearly a year since former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was jailed under similar circumstances. What is true about them is also true about Kejriwal, against whom no clinching evidence has been produced.

For the first time, the ED has dragged the names of ministers Atishi Singh and Saurabh Bharadwaj into the case, and there is a possibility that they, too, may be arrested. By all accounts, the ED had not done its homework before arresting them. What provides the agency with leeway is the presumption of guilt until proven innocent under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the law under which they would be tried. This turns the Anglo-Saxon law, which was given an Indian nomenclature, on its head. That is why Sisodia and others have been unable to get bail. Now that the AAP leaders are in for a long haul, the question is, how will they manage the government in Delhi?

True, Kejriwal does not hold charge of any particular department, but he remains the chief minister, whose concurrence or approval is needed for many critical decisions. When the ED says that he is bound by the jail manual that restricts him from meeting his colleagues or seeing files, the AAP cannot overlook the constitutional necessities. Electorally, a jailed Kejriwal may be deadlier for his bête noire Modi than a free Kejriwal, as the late George Fernandes once proved in the 1977 election. However, it's not a good advertisement for governance in the Capital. The ruling party should be able to find a leader who can not only run the government but also keep the seat warm for Kejriwal when he acquits himself honourably in the excise policy scam. It cannot but bite the bullet.

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