Resignation of AAP transport minister Gopal Rai: Health reasons or something more to it?

After Jitender Singh Tomar and Asim Ahmed Khan , AAP Minister Gopal Rai became the next minister of the Delhi Government to resign, but with a difference.

The controversial Tomar was embroiled in a fake degree scam in which Kejriwal backed him to the hilt. Kejriwal tried to defend Tomar till the very last moment, but when multiple investigations and proofs began coming out in public, Tomar was finally forced to resign, after he was arrested on charges of fraud and cheating by the Delhi Police

In the case of Khan, he was sacked by AAP supremo Kejriwal allegedly over graft charges, although Khan himself blamed “AAP’s internal politics”. The minister wasn’t given any notice of this move and was sacked in a dramatic fashion, in an apparent bid to show-case a zero-tolerance-to-corruption attitude.

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In that sense AAP Minister Gopal Rai’s case is mighty different. Firstly, he has been relieved only of one portfolio and continues to be minister for 5 other portfolios:

From Delhi Government Portal
From Delhi Government Portal

The public reason given is that Gopal Rai resigned “citing poor health”. It is odd that a minister feels unhealthy only running the transport portfolio and is fine to run 5 other ministries. Rai though, did undergo a surgery in early May 2016, to remove a bullet lodged in his neck for the past 17 years. The bullet was removed without complications and his condition was said to be stable. This still does not explain why he felt he needed to be relieved only from the Transport department.

But if one goes back a bit to the developments of the past 2 weeks, then a different story emerges. On 18th May, came the story by a site called FountainInk, which exposed the dark secrets and corrupt practices of AAP:

Although this story was published on 18th May, it made news on social media only on 1st June, when some journalists shared the story and AAP leader Aashish Khetan threatened them with dire consequences. One of the parts of the story talked about Gopal Rai and his transport ministry:

The (transport) department was caught renewing licences of autorickshaws for people it favoured .While there were close to 17,000 vehicles on the road only 10,000 were to be allowed back as per the government’s decision. The department had been provided with a list of dealers to be favoured. But the scam was exposed and there were large-scale protests on the city’s roads.

In order to control the surge in negative publicity, Rai immediately suspended three officials based on recommendations from party workers. A senior official of the department says, “They were actually against the directions and had decided to work in a fair manner. They just became scapegoats in a political battle.”

Another potential scam which hit the transport ministry was the one regarding the sale of more than 1 lakh CNG stickers to non-CNG cars. 2 protesters of the Aam Aadmi Sena, a dissident faction of former workers of Aam Aadmi Party, claimed that they had a CD containing a sting operation, which exposed alleged sale of fake CNG stickers in Delhi ahead of the Odd-Even vehicular scheme. Even journalist Rahul Kanwal independently hinted at the possibility of such a scam.

And most recently, the news of an alleged “premium bus scam” broke out in Delhi. Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) confirmed that it had launched an investigation into the AAP government’s bus aggregator scheme, and summoned Transport Commissioner Sanjay Kumar, who notified it.

With 3 allegations of scams on Delhi’s Transport ministry, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted the following on 10th June:

Kejriwal’s tweet

This was a marked departure from Kejriwal’s stance with Khan, whom he sacked as soon as he got the news that there were allegations of corruption against him. This time Kejriwal tried to pre-empt action by ACB and tried to give it a political colour. And within hours of this tweet by Delhi CM, it was revealed that Gopal Rai may resign as transport minister due to “health concerns”:

“Health Concerns”

The entire sequence of events is this: Minister Gopal Rai has a surgery for an old complication. In the meanwhile allegations fly thick and fast about his transport ministry being involved in scams. ACB starts probing one of the matters. Delhi CM pre-empts ACB action on Rai and gives it a political colour. Finally Rai cites “health reasons” to resign, but only from the controversial transport portfolio and not his 5 other ministries.

The truth will be out only when investigations are over but in the past we have seen many politicians take the “chest-pain” route to avoid the long hand of the law. To make matters worse for him, communist Kavita Krishnan, had this to say about Gopal Rai, much before he became a minister and any of the alleged scams emerged:

Krishnan’s verdict

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