Will seek court permission to set up office for Delhi CM Kejriwal in jail: Bhagwant Mann

Bhagwant Mann
Bhagwant Mann

New Delhi | Aam Aadmi Party leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday said that if his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal is sent to jail, they will approach the court for permission to set up his office in prison so that he can run his government from there.

He also asserted that no one can take Kejriwal's place in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

"It is not written anywhere that a government cannot run from jail," Mann told PTI videos in an interview when asked about the arrest of the Delhi chief minister and AAP chief by the Enforcement Directorate in an excise policy case and how he will run his government if he is remanded in jail custody.

The BJP has demanded the resignation of Kejriwal after he was sent to ED custody till March 28.

"The law says he can work from jail till found guilty. We will seek permission from the Supreme Court, High Court for setting up an office in the jail and the (Delhi) government will function," Mann said.

No one can take Kejriwal's place in AAP because he created the party out of the anti-corruption movement, Mann, who often accompanied Kejriwal to public meetings across the country, replied when asked if the campaigning for Lok Sabha polls will be affected by the AAP chief's arrest.

He said he would go wherever the party assigns him duty.

"No one can take the place of Arvind Kejriwal in the party because the party was brought out of the movement (India Against Corruption). He is a senior founder member of the party. The day he registered the party and got the symbol of broom, I was not with him. I joined later on," Mann said.

The Punjab chief minister said there is no ranking in AAP, adding, "Everyone is a loyal soldier of Kejriwal".

"Kejriwal did one thing in the party, he made everyone national convener. AAP made everyone a leader.

"I have 92 MLAs in Punjab. Out of these 80 are first-timers aged 28-30 years who are MLAs, ministers. So, there is no ranking of generals and soldiers in the AAP. We all are generals and soldiers- loyal soldiers of Arvind Kejriwal... we are standing rock-solid with him," Mann said.

The Punjab chief minister lashed out at the BJP alleging it was engaging in "political vendetta" and wanted to send everyone in the opposition to jail to win elections.

"This happened in Bangladesh. The entire opposition of the country is in jail. In Russia, Putin became President till 2030 with 88 per cent votes. Is this a democracy?" he said.

Mann pointed out that India is said to be the biggest democracy in the world and added, "Is this democracy to send those who built hospitals, schools, and speak in Rajya Sabha behind bars."

The top leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party including former deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia, former health minister Satyendar Jain and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh are in jail for many months after being arrested in money laundering cases.

Kejriwal is currently in Enforcement Directorate custody till March 28. He was arrested by the ED on Thursday night in connection with a money laundering case linked to the now-scrapped excise policy of his government. Sisodia and Singh are also in jail in the same matter.

"At present, there is a need to save the Constitution of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and 140 crore people of the country understand this," Mann said.

Meanwhile, Delhi cabinet minister Atishi claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party office in the city has been "sealed" from all sides, adding the party will report the matter to the Election Commission. A Delhi Police officer refuted the allegation by AAP.

Police personnel were deployed at DDU Marg to stop the gathering of people since CrPC section 144 is imposed there, the officer said.

Anurag Thakur
Anurag Thakur

Worst kind of politics: BJP on Kejriwal's continuation as CM

New Delhi | The BJP on Saturday slammed Arvind Kejriwal's continuation as the chief minister of Delhi despite being under arrest, saying it is the most unfortunate moment in the country's political journey and the worst kind of politics.

With the AAP leaders strongly defending their leader, Union Minister Anurag Thakur mockingly said they are competing to replace him as the chief minister but his wife has also joined the race now, a reference to Sunita Kejriwal reading out the AAP national convener's message which was also broadcast on news channels.

Speaking to reporters, he also lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann over the death of at least 20 people in Sangrur due to the consumption of spurious liquor, alleging the entire Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has sunk into one liquor-related scandal or another.

Asked about Delhi minister Atishi's demand for action against BJP president J P Nadda as she alleged a link between an accused-turned-approver in the excise policy case and the donation his company made to the saffron party through electoral bond, Thakur laughed it off.

Will anybody take bribe through the electoral bond, he asked, claiming that the electoral bond, struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, was aimed at transparency.

In terms of its proportionate strength, the BJP has got less money through bonds compared to parties like the Trinamool Congress, he claimed.

AAP leaders are making all kinds of comments to outcompete each other to become the chief minister, he said, adding that Kejriwal left even Anna Hazare feeling cheated by his conduct.

Speaking to reporters, the BJP leader dismissed the opposition parties' expression of solidarity with Kejriwal as a case of "thieves showing brotherhood" and cited the Congress' past complaint against the Delhi chief minister over the alleged liquor scam to question the party over its support to him.

Nobody is saying Kejriwal is innocent and there has been no scam, Thakur asserted.

"Why has the Congress become so helpless and weak," he said in a swipe at the main opposition party whose Delhi leaders used to attack the AAP over the excise policy case in which Kejriwal has been arrested.

The Congress, Thakur said, should laud the ED for taking action in the case and arresting the accused as its leaders, including Ajay Maken, had targeted the AAP for the "scam".

"The kingpin has been arrested and the one who gave us wisdom on morality and honesty says he will run the government from jail," Thakur said, noting that somebody like RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, convicted in cases related to fodder scam, at least chose to install his wife in his place before being arrested.

The relations of this "corrupt" party with those liquor or spurious liquor traders need to be found out, he said, slamming Mann's alleged silence over the tragedy.

With Kejriwal refusing to join the probe before his arrest by claiming that the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate was illegal and part of the BJP's political vendetta, Thakur noted how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had presented himself for questioning when he was the Gujarat chief minister.

Modi asserted the supremacy of law and came out stronger, he said, hitting out at Kejriwal and also the Congress, which has claimed the Income Tax department's recent action against it is driven by the Modi government's vendetta to cripple its finances during the polls.

The Congress did not file IT returns in time and thinks it is above the law, he said, accusing the party of arrogance.

Thakur said the people of the country believe in Prime Minister Modi's guarantees of development and action against corruption. They can see that action against the corrupt is happening, he added.

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