Arvind Kejriwal Under Arrest: Politics Before Elections or Justice for Corruption?


Arvind Kejriwal being taken away by ED officials in New Delhi on Thursday (ANI)

With the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister, a pandora’s box has been opened. The move may further unite the INDIA bloc parties. Will BJP gain from this move?

Our Bureau
New Delhi

In an expected yet shocking development on Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of corruption in relation to the case. It is the first time in independent India that a serving Chief Minister has been arrested. The move came after Kejriwal skipped multiple summons by the investigation agency, nine in total, calling them “illegal”.

On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was produced in Rose Avenue Court, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought his 10-day custody in connection with the now-scrapped liquor policy. Before appearing at the court, the Delhi CM said, “Whether I stay in jail, or outside, my life will be dedicated to serving the nation.”

However, the court reserved its order on pleas by the ED seeking 10-day custody of Delhi CM Kejriwal.

Whatever the decision of the court, a new chapter has opened in Indian politics. The decision will have a major impact on the general elections due in a few weeks. 

In its arguments before the court, the ED alleged that the Chief Minister of Delhi is the key conspirator and kingpin in demanding kickbacks from businessmen. The agency further claimed that Kejriwal was directly involved in the formation of the now scrapped Excise policy.

The ED counsel further claimed that the proceeds of crime is not only Rs 100 crore but profits made by bribe givers were also proceeds of crime. The counsel said that agency had traced hawala trails of Rs 45 crore that was used in Goa Elections.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor while Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju and Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain appeared for the central probe agency.

The ASG said that Kejriwal’s role via the AAP is important in addition to his personal role in the alleged scam. The counsel further said that Kejriwal was not cooperative during the search. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal opposed the remand plea and submitted that the agency needs to show the necessity to arrest. Singhvi argued that the power of arrest and the necessity of arrest are two different things.

Singhvi said that in the history of 75 years of independence this is the first time a sitting chief minister is arrested, the first time four leaders of his party are arrested. Singhvi further said it’s like having the result before the first vote is cast. Singhvi said that 80 per cent of the people have not mentioned Kejriwal or any dealings with him. Any remanding court is not an automatic rubber stamp, Singhvi argued.

Indian Youth Congress members a protest against the Modi government in New Delhi (ANI)

Meanwhile, Sunita Kejriwal, the wife of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who was held by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the alleged excise policy scam a day before, on Friday said that the arrest of her husband is a “betrayal” with the people who have elected him to power thrice. Sunita, in a post on X, hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that Kejriwal was arrested due to the PM’s “arrogance of power.”

“Modiji got your thrice elected Chief Minister arrested out of arrogance of power. He is trying to crush everyone. This is a betrayal of the people of Delhi. Your Chief Minister has always stood with you,” she said in a post in Hindi.

She further said that Arvind Kejriwal’s life is dedicated to the country, whether he is inside the jail or outside.

After Delhi Chief Minister was arrested, INDIA bloc leaders met with the Election Commission of India on Friday and demanded its intervention in the “targeting of opposition leaders” by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party through the “misuse of central agencies”.

The representation to the ECI was made by Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, Abhishek Singhvi, NCP (SCP) leader Jitendra Awhad, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury, TMC MP Derek O Brien and several other leaders.

After meeting the Election Commission, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said that a level playing field is needed for elections, but the ruling party is not allowing that, which has had an impact of free and fair elections. “Almost every opposition party is here. This incident happened late at night (arrest of Delhi CM). We had a detailed discussion with the election commission. This isn’t about an individual or any party but it relates to the basic structure of the constitution. When a level playing field is needed for an election and you do not let the field be leveled by misusing agencies, it impacts free and fair elections and ultimately democracy,” he said.

In a related development, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court on Friday, seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal from the Delhi Chief Minister’s post after his arrest in an alleged money laundering case in connection with the excise policy. The plea stated that Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam.

“Prior to the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate, the High Court had also refused to pass orders granting interim protection from the coercive action against him in the said case,” the plea said, noting that after Kejriwal’s arrest, Delhi Minster Atishi has given interviews to various channels stating and affirming that Kejriwal will not resign from his post and, if needed, will run the government from jail.

“She further said ‘Arvind Kejriwal was the Delhi CM, is the CM and will continue to remain the CM, he will not resign’ the plea read.

Now, Central intelligence agencies are keeping close watch on the movement of protesters coming to Delhi after the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal over reports that anti-social elements could hijack the protest to create chaos in the national capital. A senior official confirmed that intelligence agencies have been keeping watch on the movement of protesters from other states, especially from Punjab, as many AAP leaders have given calls for protest and requested workers from other states to march towards Delhi. Other party workers might also come along with them.

“We are vigilant and in touch with state police over the movement of protesters. Because of the ongoing farmer protests, police and intelligence agencies are already on high alert. We are updating Delhi, Punjab and Haryana police with the situation and have requested that they stop any such movement as it could create chaos in the national capital,” said the official.

On Friday, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann reached Kejriwal’s residence to meet his family members. After the arrest of Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged liquor policy scam on Thursday late at night, the Aam Aadmi Party has called for huge protests in Delhi as well as across the country.

Meanwhile, labelling the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest as a ‘mockery of democracy’, Rajya Sabha MP and Senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Thursday said that the Delhi liquor policy case in which Kejriwal has been arrested holds no ground as there is no substantial proof in the case.

Asking the INDIA alliance to come together against the action on Kejriwal, Sibal said, “INDIA Alliance has to decide what to do. I have been saying since the beginning that the alliance has to come together against all of this. This is a zero case. The whole case is based on the statements of the approvers. The approvers statements are not considered, unless there is a substantial proof, there are no proofs in this case”, he said.

Criticizing the BJP for its role in the electoral bonds case, Sibal stated, “Instead of arresting those they should have, they purchased bonds from them. With the scheme now scrapped, their ability to buy bonds is gone. This is nothing but a mockery of democracy,” he said.

Congress leader KC Venugopal on Friday flayed the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, saying that the Election Commission has become a weapon of the government for vendetta politics against the opposition. “They (BJP) know they can’t win on their own, so they are doing vendetta politics against opposition leaders…This is a move to make India an autocratic country,” Venugopal further said.

Earlier, Aam Aadmi Party leaders, including Delhi Ministers Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi, were detained by the Delhi police during the party protest against the arrest of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP held a protest at the ITO in the national capital against CM Kejriwal’s arrest by ED in the excise policy case.

The Capital is gripped with tension and it may continue till the first votes are cast on April 19 and the results announced on June 4.

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