Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief, is facing one of the toughest times of his small political career over allegations of corruption against him. AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who has been suspended from the party, has alleged that Kejriwal received Rs 2 crore from Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain and the later also allegedly arranged a Rs 50 crore deal for a seven-acre plot in South Delhi’s Chattarpur for the Delhi CM’s brother-in-law. Mishra has also filed a case in this regard with the CBI.
On Tuesday, Kejriwal was expected to respond to the corruption charges leveled by Mishra. Instead, the AAP organised a “special session” of Delhi Legislative Assembly to demonstrate that Electronic Voting Machines can be “tampered” with. An AAP leader demonstrating EVM tampering in a democratically-elected Assembly was unprecedented and may invite further legal troubles to the party. For the record, EC has rubbished AAP’s dramatic demonstration and even said the EVM used for the purpose was not the one authorised by the poll panel.
AAP may believe that it has scored a lead in its fight against the Election Commission and EVM, there are chances that the corruption charges against Kejriwal may end up in a classic showdown between the former and his mentor social activist Anna Hazare.
Negative stories coming out of the AAP camp in the last few months haven’t gone down well with Hazare, who feels cheated by AAP. It should be recalled that Kejriwal and AAP are the product of the anti-corruption movement led by Hazare in 2011. Both Hazare and Kejriwal had parted ways after the latter decided to form a political party.
Responding to the allegations of corruption against Kejriwal on Tuesday, Anna threatened he would sit on an agitation to demand Kejriwal’s resignation if the charges were true. “I think there should be a thorough investigation in this case. If Kejriwal is found guilty then I will personally sit on an agitation at Jantar Mantar and demand his resignation,” Hazare told PTI at his residence in village Ralegan Siddhi of Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district.
However, the Gandhian leader also said that Mishra made the allegations against Kejriwal only after he was removed from the party. “Whatever the former minister (Kapil Mishra) has said against Kejriwal, he said it only after his removal. If he was the minister when the alleged money exchange took place, why did not he alert the authorities?”.
On several occasions since the declaration of results of the five state Assembly elections in March this year, Hazare has publicly displayed his displeasure with AAP and Kejriwal. On March 15, Hazare attacked Kejriwal, saying the latter’s demand to hold elections with ballot papers was regressive. In an interview with Times Now, he had said. “Science and Technology are developing, the world is going ahead and we are talking about using ballot papers! It’s like going backwards.”
On Sunday, Hazare said he was “deeply disappointed” with the corruption charges against Kejriwal. “Kejriwal became CM due to fight against corruption in Delhi, and the news of allegations on him today is saddening,” the social activist told ANI.
In an interview with CNN-News 18 on Monday, Hazare said Kejriwal should step down as he was facing serious graft charges. “Arvind Kejriwal should step down as CM pending a probe. He should start a probe into his dealings,” he told the channel.
On April 27, Hazare said AAP was “power hungry”. When AAP came to power in Delhi, people’s expectations increased and it was felt that there will be a change in the country. “However, their credibility dwindled. An important reason for this decrease was that these (AAP) leaders reneged on their poll promise of not accepting government facilities like official bungalows and other perks. Despite the poll promise, (Kejriwal) took a big bungalow and government vehicle and even a hefty salary hike,” Hazare told PTI.
“Had (AAP rule in) Delhi become a model, the whole country would have emulated it. However, the lust for power is a bad thing,” he added.
With Hazare’s latest threat to sit on dharna against Kejriwal and the latter’s reluctance to step down and face a probe, it shouldn’t be surprising if we witness a showdown between the two. But, will it stoop to that level?