Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, arrested Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers, quit the Delhi cabinet today. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accepted their resignations and reassigned their ministries.
The resignations were not an acceptance of guilt in any way, AAP asserted, describing it as an “administrative step”. No new ministers will join the cabinet, party sources said.
Manish Sisodia’s departments will be handled by Kailash Gehlot and Raj Kumar Anand will take over Satyendar Jain’s ministries.
Manish Sisodia was arrested on Sunday over allegations of corruption in the Delhi liquor policy case. Before his arrest, he predicted that he would be in jail for “7-8 months”.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi had been in charge of 18 ministries, including the health portfolio of Satyendar Jain, who has been in jail for 10 months.
The resignations came soon after the BJP questioned why the arrested ministers were still in the Delhi government.
There are now five ministers in the Delhi cabinet, including Kejriwal, who has not taken any ministry, preferring instead to pursue AAP’s national plans.
Mr Sisodia, widely seen to be Kejriwal’s number two in the party and the government, had taken charge of a bulk of the ministries, leaving the AAP chief free to focus on the party’s campaign across the country.
When Satyendar Jain was arrested in May over allegations of money laundering, Kejriwal simply transferred his departments to Sisodia. Mr Jain held on to his job despite being in jail.
But AAP sources said with Sisodia’s arrest the Delhi government has a vacuum in key portfolios like finance, health and education.
Kejriwal may be forced to cut back on his trips to other states and take charge of some ministries.
It is a huge setback for AAP as it preps for the 2024 national election. The Chief Minister had reportedly planned to visit states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where elections will be held later this year.
As for Delhi, it will need a Finance Minister to present the budget.