Sisodia, Jain quit Cabinet

NEW DELHI, Feb 28:  In a significant turn of events, arrested Delhi Ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyendra Jain today resigned from the Arvind Kejriwal-led Cabinet amidst BJP’s persistent onslaught against the AAP over the corruption charges against its leaders.
The resignations came minutes after the SC refused to entertain the bail plea of Sisodia, who is in CBI custody in the now-scrapped excise policy case, saying it would set a “wrong precedent” and efficacious alternative remedies are available to him.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha said just because the incident happened in Delhi, he cannot come to the Apex Court directly as he has his remedies before the trial court concerned as well as the Delhi High Court.
Kejriwal has accepted the resignations of Sisodia and Jain, and an AAP national spokesperson said two new Ministers will be appointed soon and the responsibilities of Sisodia and Jain will be distributed accordingly.
While Sisodia was arrested on Sunday evening by CBI after nearly nine hours of questioning, Jain, currently lodged in Tihar, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May last year in connection with a money laundering case. However, Jain continued to be a Minister in the Delhi Government without any portfolios.
Jain’s portfolios, including health, home and urban development were handed over to Sisodia.
Following the arrest of Sisodia, the BJP stepped up its attack against AAP and demanded his resignation while the Kejriwal-led party termed the cases against its leader “bogus” and said these were driven by “political vendetta”.
Hitting out at the AAP and its national convener Kejriwal, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said people who claimed to be the “flag bearers of the fight against corruption” have ensured governance that “increases the number of alcohol users in Delhi” and alleged that the liquor scam case was a “fixed textbook case of corruption”.
Without naming any party, Prasad at a press conference here said he thought cut and the commission was the legacy of only one political party. “But today, I must say that 3C-cut, commission and corruption also apply to Kejriwal’s party,” Prasad said.
He also said the AAP leaders have defamed the anti-corruption agitation led by Anna Hazare.
“They should have resigned earlier. Jain has resigned several months after his arrest and Sisodia should have resigned at the time when the allegations against them came out,” the former Law Minister said.
He said the Supreme court refused to “grant any indulgence to one of the “most prominent faces of the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare” which clearly indicates the merit of Sisodia’s plea.
Alleging that the Centre is “targeting” the state Governments who are “working relentlessly for development”, AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “it is very unfortunate for the entire country that those leaders who were known and popular for their work, have been trapped.”
“The cabinet in Delhi is quite small and most of the important departments were handled by Jain and Sisodia. To avoid being behind in terms of work, two new ministers will be appointed very soon,” Bhardwaj said.
According to official sources in the Delhi Government, Sisodia’s portfolios would be allotted to Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot and Social Welfare Minister Raj Kumar Anand.
Sisodia, who was the Deputy Chief Minister, was holding charge of 18 out of 33 departments of the Delhi Government, including health, finance, education and home.
The Congress said Sisodia has been arrested in an “open-and-shut case of corruption”, and demanded that Kejriwal should be arrested too for his involvement in the liquor scam.
Congress leader and former Union Minister Ajay Maken said those who formed their party on the anti-corruption plank should answer questions posed on the excise policy, which was formed in complete contradiction to the recommendations of the committee set up by them.
Asserting that the BJP’s struggle has borne fruits, Delhi BJP’s working president Virendra Sachdeva said Kejriwal had to accept these resignations out of embarrassment.
“This is a victory of BJP workers, a victory of truth. A liquor scam has happened with your complicity and right under your nose. You are responsible for it. Our struggle and demand for Kejriwal’s resignation will continue,” he said. (PTI)