AAP Says Arvind Kejriwal Will Remain Chief Minister. How Feasible Is That?

New Delhi:

Arvind Kejriwal will continue as the Delhi Chief Minister and discharge his duties from jail, the Aam Aadmi Party said today minutes after he was arrested in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. “Arvind Kejriwal is and will remain the Chief Minister of Delhi… there are no two ways about it,” said AAP’s Atishi, who is currently his Number 2 in the government.

“We made it clear from the beginning that he will work from jail if need be. There is no law that stops him from doing so. He has not been convicted,” she added.  

Mr Kejriwal is the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested in recent times. His continuing to work as the Chief Minister from jail is likely to create a constitutional crisis, sources said, pointing out that when Lalu Yadav, then Chief Minister of Bihar, got arrested in the fodder scam case, he had handed over his charges to his wife Rabri Devi.

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren — who was arrested in January in connection with an alleged land scam — was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate after he met the Governor and stepped down from the post.

Sources said the Union Home Ministry is examining the ramifications of Mr Kejriwal not resigning. Legal experts said the Centre may have to suspend or remove him since he is a public servant. This is also the procedure that is followed for government officials who are arrested. They are immediately suspended from service, sources said.

Highly placed sources in Tihar jail, where Mr Kejriwal may eventually be taken, said there is no precedent of anyone working as Chief Minster from jail. “There is no mention of it in the jail manual and everything will be done according to the jail manual,” a source said.

Mr Kejriwal was arrested after he skipped summons for questioning for a ninth time and the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest. His team has already filed an appeal in the Supreme Court and is pushing for a midnight hearing.

In a recent press note, the Enforcement Directorate has accused Mr Kejriwal of conspiracy. K Kavitha of Bharat Rashtra Samithi had conspired with him, and AAP’s Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia to make changes in the now-scrapped liquor policy that benefitted a cartel, the agency has alleged.

Mr Kejriwal’s name, the agency had alleged, had appeared in the statements of some of the accused and witnesses.

Mr Sisodia is in jail.  Soon after his arrest, his charges were divided between several leaders inducted into the cabinet.

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