Political gaming in the wake of the liquor policy scam

The unease in the ruling AAP in Delhi is palpable as the Central probe agencies are in the process of unravelling the liquor policy scam. 

Published: 25th August 2022 07:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2022 07:32 AM   |  A+A-

Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia at a press conference at his residence, in New Delhi, Monday, Aug 22, 2022. (Photo | PTI)

When two biggies of a political party suddenly indulge in hyperbole that suggests they are part of a mutual admiration club, one wonders if their nervousness is showing. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia seeking to frame the 2024 electoral battle for the Red Fort as one between his party boss Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at least understandable. But when Kejriwal returned the compliment, saying he saw a Bharat Ratna—the nation’s highest civilian award—in Sisodia, it appeared completely out of character.

For, Kejriwal fancies himself as the repository of all wisdom and hates to put any colleague on such a high pedestal. The unease in the ruling AAP in Delhi is palpable as the Central probe agencies—the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate—are in the process of unravelling the liquor policy scam. With the finger of suspicion pointing at Sisodia, it would badly damage the AAP’s probity-in-public-life card, which it flaunts as its differentiator. 

Ever since the AAP captured power in Delhi less than a decade ago, it has successfully challenged the BJP election machine through a heady cocktail of freebies, slick messaging and the anti-corruption platform. It is the only Opposition party that has dramatically expanded its national footprint since 2014. Wary of the corrosive influence of the AAP, the BJP is said to have cut a deal with the Punjab Congress in 2017 when Amarinder Singh was the state party chief to keep Kejriwal’s party out of power. The deal could have been renewed had Congress not committed harakiri by ejecting Singh in the run-up to the 2022 state polls. In the end, Punjab gave the AAP a handsome mandate.

The AAP is already running a high decibel campaign in Gujarat ahead of the elections later this year, much before the sloppy Congress, the principal Opposition party, has gotten its act together. If it does well, it will get bragging rights as the principal challenger to Modi in 2024. Sisodia being Number 2, his arrest by the CBI/ED in the liquor scam could tie Kejriwal down to Delhi, reducing his campaign time elsewhere, the BJP reckons. Therein perhaps lies the kernel of the BJP’s strategy to peg back the AAP. 


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