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Should Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal resign or govern from jail if arrested by ED: AAP to hold a ‘referendum’

AAP leader and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in-charge Durgesh Pathak revealed, "AAP will hold street meetings in Delhi and across the country, and will go from house to house to hold a referendum

On 7 November, the Aam Aadmi Party announced that it would hold a “referendum” in the national capital, Punjab and other regions of the country to decide whether Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should step down from office in the event that the Enforcement Directorate arrests him in connection with the excise policy case, or go on leading the government from behind bars.

The development came as a part of multiple decisions that were taken after AAP municipal councillors and the party supremo held a 1.5-hour discussion concerning the Enforcement Directorate summons that was issued to him regarding his involvement with the scam. This occurred one day following a similar gathering he arranged for party MLAs.

AAP leader and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in-charge Durgesh Pathak revealed, “AAP will hold street meetings in Delhi and across the country, and will go from house to house to hold a referendum. The CM listened to the councillors. He assured us that he would consider this matter. In the meeting, the CM mentioned that he would also discuss this matter with the AAP’s organization in Punjab and across the country.”

He added, “After that, a decision will be made on this issue. Along with this, in today’s meeting, it was decided that referendums will be conducted in Delhi and the entire country on the same matter. People will be engaged in a public dialogue to decide whether Arvind Kejriwal should resign as Delhi CM or run the government from Tihar jail. AAP councillors and MLAs will gather people’s opinions by conducting campaigns across the country.”

According to him, the council members requested that if the AAP president is jailed, he lead the government from a prison cell. This proposal was also expressed by the MLAs. “All councillors requested the CM that he should not think about resigning. If the Modi government’s ED dares to arrest the CM, then he has to run the government from jail.”

He stressed, “AAP councillors and MLAs will run a campaign throughout the country and hold a referendum. They will visit every house to hold a dialogue with citizens. We will tour the national capital and hold street discussions on whether the CM should resign or run the government from Tihar Jail.” The AAP leader added that the chief minister mentioned that he is going to meet with Punjab AAP leaders before making a decision on the matter after the councillors requested him not to step down.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the AAP of dramatics over the ED summons. “For the last two days, AAP has been trying to create an impression that Kejriwal is a living martyr, but AAP leaders should know that Delhi residents know that Kejriwal is involved in the liquor scam. It appears that karma is haunting Kejriwal as he knows that the money trail of the scam will land at his doorstep, so he is now calling his elected representatives to meetings to keep the flock together,” charged Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor.

The AAP legislative group in Delhi convened a meeting on 6 November to reaffirm their support for Arvind Kejriwal. They stressed that in the event that he is apprehended by the police, the Delhi government would be operated out of Tihar Prison and cabinet meetings would take place there.

Delhi Liquor Policy Scam

The Delhi Liquor Policy’s accusations stemmed from a report that Lieutenant Governor (LG) Vinai Kumar Saxena received from Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar in July 2022 which highlighted purported procedural errors in the policy’s formulation. According to the audit, former deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia’s “arbitrary and unilateral decisions” as the Excise Minister caused “financial losses to the exchequer” that were estimated to be worth more than Rs 580 crore.

The statement claimed that “kickbacks received by the AAP Delhi government and AAP leaders” from owners and operators of alcohol businesses in return for preferential treatment, including license fee extensions and discounts, waivers of penalties, relief from Covid-19-related disruptions, etc., were used to “influence” the early 2022 Punjab and Goa Assembly elections. Manish Sisodia was arrested as a result of the CBI being referred the report.

Following the filing of an FIR by the CBI against him and fourteen other accused, including AAP communications chief Vijay Nair, the ED informed a court in March that the purported proceeds of crime exceeded Rs 292 crore. The agency arrested Delhi Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh last month in relation to a money laundering case linked to the scam.

On 30 October, the ED asked Arvind Kejriwal to appear before it on 2nd November in relation to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021–2022. However, he ignored the summons, labelling them as “illegal” and proceeded to Madhya Pradesh for the upcoming elections to speak at a rally. He alleged that the national anti-money laundering agency was working with the BJP to damage his reputation. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had already called him in relation to the matter in April of this year.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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