Kejriwal faces Hamlet-like dilemma on whom to trust

As the Delhi Excise scam case progresses, the heat on Delhi's chief minister would increase. His ability at playing the victim card too is slowly waning.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. ( Photo | ANI)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. ( Photo | ANI)

For the followers of Marxism and its variants, axioms like a child being born with a golden spoon are fit for abomination. But what would the Marxist parents of Delhi cabinet number two, Atishi Singh aka Marlena would have to say about their child? Atishi’s long-time surname now dropped, Marlena is a portmanteau of Marx and Lenin.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s ministerial team has undergone a huge transfiguration since it first came to power in the winter of 2013. Let’s check on names which were part of the first Cabinet in 2013, when the anti-corruption movement was at its peak – Manish Sisodia, Satyender Jain, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Somnath Bharti, Girish Soni and Rakhi Birla.

When a much more politically powerful Kejriwal returned to power in 2015, of these members, just Sisodia and Jain were retained. Even the assembly speaker MS Dhir had fallen by the wayside. In the next eight years, we have seen many ministers being dropped.

In some instances like Jitender Tomar, they faced criminal cases. However, on most of the other occasions, they did not survive Kejriwal’s loyalty test and were dropped – Asim Ahmed Khan, Kapil Mishra, Sandeep Kumar and Rajendra Pal Gautam. Two of the senior members – Manish Sisodia and Satyender Jain have since been incarcerated in corruption cases, and two surviving members from the second Cabinet are – Kailash Gahlot and Gopal Rai.

A very ‘powerful’ Kejriwal and to an extent his deputy Sisodia did not have much confidence in two members from the first Cabinet — Bhardwaj and Bharti.No wonder they remained in hibernation for almost a decade before their rehabilitation. Bhardwaj was first made vice chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, when Raghav Chadha moved to Rajya Sabha and later inducted into the cabinet following Sisodia’s and Jain’s exit.

After Bhardwaj’s induction into the cabinet, Bharti has been accommodated in the Delhi Jal Board. Though Bhardwaj may have been made part of the cabinet, and Gahlot and Rai may have been the long-surviving members of Kejriwal’s ministerial team, they do not enjoy their leader’s trust to the extent they would have wanted.No evidence needed after the recent rejig, where first-term MLA, Atishi has now been given charge of 12 departments.

In a surprise move last week, finance, planning and revenue departments were taken away from Gahlot and passed onto Atishi. Gahlot, incidentally had been groomed by Sisodia to handle these departments before he was arrested. Gahlot had presented the last budget too. Such a sudden move indicates that Kejriwal is pressed with challenges not only outside his party but inside too.

With finance, PWD and education among others under her wings, Atishi today is much more powerful than ever Sisodia or Jain were in the AAP Cabinets in the past 10 years. This move has come from Kejriwal after he was almost snubbed at the Opposition’s meeting in Patna, where it was indicated that the unity of parties cannot solely be dependent on AAP’s political interests.

Kejriwal in the past few months also has had the CBI sleuths visiting him. As the Delhi Excise scam case progresses, the heat on Delhi's chief minister would increase. His ability at playing the victim card too is slowly waning.

On many occasions, the muck he has thrown at Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has not stuck on him. Saxena, on the other hand, is increasingly sending out the message that he is out to clean the Aegean’s stable, which Kejriwal has turned the Delhi government into. The AAP leader, by placing charge of governance in Atishi, is probably getting ready for the one final battle. Let’s wait and watch.

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms,Development & Justice

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