Delhi: No cabinet expansion expected, Kejriwal may handle ministries too
Delhi government has decided not to expand its cabinet till the Budget is presented in March, despite the resignation of its key ministers, Manish Sisodia and Satyendra Jain. Sisodia's eighteen portfolios were given to Delhi Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot and Social Welfare Minister Raaj Kumar Anand hours after he resigned following his arrest. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is also expected to enter the ministries.
Why does this story matter?
- Jain, who was arrested in May last year in connection with a money-laundering case, had remained in his position despite pressure on the AAP-led Delhi government.
- Sisodia meanwhile was arrested on Sunday in the alleged Delhi Liquor Policy scam.
- The two arrested ministers face losing their assembly seats if sentenced to two or more years in prison.
AAP makes temporary arrangements till cabinet expansion after Budget
Gahlot has been given the additional charge of finance and power while Anand will handle the education and health departments as well. Notably, Sisodia was heading 18 departments of the total 33 departments in the AAP-led Delhi government. So, his arrest and subsequent resignation put the party in a fix and prompted it to make a temporary arrangement till cabinet expansion after Budget session.
Additional portfolios given to two existing ministers
Gahlot will also take care of Finance, Planning, Public works department, Power, Home, Urban Development, Irrigation and Flood Control, and Water along with his existing departments till the new ministers are appointed, per AAP announcement. Anand will be taking care of Education, Land and Building, Vigilance, Services, Tourism, Art Culture & Language, Labour, Employment, Health, and Industries in addition to his existing portfolios.
Two new ministers will be appointed 'very soon': AAP Spokesperson
additionally, AAP National Spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj informed on Tuesday that two new ministers will be appointed "very soon." The announcement came hours after Kejriwal accepted the resignation of Sisodia and Jain.
Kejriwal may handle some Delhi ministries too amid the crisis
As the AAP administration led by Kejriwal in Delhi faces a crisis, the CM may be forced to take on multiple portfolios. To recall, the AAP administration began with seven ministers and now has only five, so Kejriwal, the face of the party and government, may be bound to the Delhi government ahead of a series of elections.
Arrested ministers were in charge of these portfolios
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Jain in a money laundering case. He was in charge of health, prisons, power, the public works department (PWD), and industry. Sisodia was in charge of education, finance, labor, and other ministries that were not expressly assigned to another minister.
CBI looking into these allegations
The CBI is primarily looking into three allegations concerning the liquor policy case. It alleged that the policy led to a massive loss of public money as ineligible retailers were given licenses, which got the AAP government kickbacks and "commissions." Notably, Sisodia reversed the Excise Policy last year, declaring that only government establishments would sell alcohol in Delhi beginning in August.
What action did CBI, ED take in the case previously
The ED is also looking into possible money laundering in the case. Since last year, the CBI and ED have made multiple arrests, including people from southern India. Previously, the ED disclosed that an alleged southern cartel paid the AAP Rs. 100 crore in bribes. The CBI also questioned Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter, Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC K Kavitha, in December.