Arrest of Sisodia who heads most key depts puts Kejriwal govt in a spot, budget first challenge
Sisodia's absence leaves Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with no heavyweight lieutenant to implement his governance agenda in Delhi
The Arvind Kejriwal government is staring at a possible crisis with the CBI arresting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who holds as many as 18 of the total 33 departments, including education, finance and home.
The arrest of Sisodia comes after that of Satyendar Jain, Delhi's the then health minister, in June last year. Both have led what the Aam Aadmi Party describes as the successful transformation of Delhi's education and health services, contributing to the party's popularity and continued electoral success.
Their absence leaves Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with no heavyweight lieutenant to implement his governance agenda in Delhi.
The immediate challenge for Kejriwal is to present the Delhi government budget as scheduled and find Sisodia's replacement.
Sources in the Aam Aadmi Party said Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot may present the Delhi government budget for the next financial year.
"As there was a possibility that the deputy chief minister may be arrested by the CBI, Gahlot was attending budget-related meetings for the last few days.
"Gahlot is likely to present the 2023-24 budget. It is scheduled to be presented next month," an AAP functionary told PTI.
According to the Delhi government's websites, there are a total of 33 departments.
Of these, Sisodia looks after 18, including health, education, public works department (PWD), services, finance, power, home and urban development. He is also in charge of all other departments not specifically allotted to any minister.
Apart from Kejriwal, the Delhi government has six cabinet ministers, including jailed Satyendar Jain who is still a minister without a portfolio. Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last year in connection with a money laundering case.
Environment Minister Gopal Rai has only three departments while Imran Hussain is in charge of only two departments -- food and civil supplies, and election.
Kailash Gahlot is in charge of six departments, including revenue, and transport while Raj Kumar Anand has four portfolios.
The CBI on Sunday evening arrested Sisodia, who is close to Kejriwal, in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 after nearly eight hours of questioning.
This was the second round of questioning of Sisodia after the agency registered a case on August 17 last year. He was quizzed on October 17 last year.
Kejriwal termed the arrest "dirty politics" and asserted that his deputy was innocent.
"Manish is innocent. His arrest is dirty politics. It has angered people quite a lot. People are watching everything. People now understand everything and will give a reply to this. It will boost our spirit and our struggle will only get stronger," Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
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