Kejriwal forwards names of AAP MLAs Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj to L-G for appointment to Delhi Cabinet

Atishi to become first woman Minister in the present Cabinet; BJP objects to her inclusion saying she comes from a family with communist background; AAP will launch a door-to-door national campaign against Prime Minister, says party chief

March 01, 2023 12:07 pm | Updated March 02, 2023 02:41 am IST - New Delhi

Atishi is a member of AAP’s political affairs committee, the party’s highest decision­making body. Saurabh Bharadwaj is currently AAP’s chief spokesperson.

Atishi is a member of AAP’s political affairs committee, the party’s highest decision­making body. Saurabh Bharadwaj is currently AAP’s chief spokesperson. | Photo Credit: ANI

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent the names of AAP MLAs Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj to Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena for their appointment as Cabinet Ministers.

This development comes a day after Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain resigned from the Cabinet.

The L-G has requested the President to accept Mr. Sisodia’s and Mr. Jain’s resignations, according to officials at Raj Niwas.

Till the two AAP MLAs are inducted into the Cabinet, the departments headed by Mr. Sisodia will be handled by Ministers Kailash Gahlot and Raaj Kumar Anand.

Atishi, a member of AAP’s political affairs committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, is set to become the first woman Minister in the present Cabinet.

Mr. Bharadwaj, currently the party’s chief spokesperson, was part of the Cabinet when AAP came to power for the first time in Delhi in 2015.

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The two leaders are close to Mr. Kejriwal and are often seen at the forefront of the party’s defence.

AAP’s campaign

Mr. Kejriwal, AAP’s national convener, on Monday announced that the party will go on a door-to-door campaign to tell people about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is crossing all limits” just as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did in her time.

“The people are watching everything. They will give a befitting reply. We will start the campaign across the country next week,” said the AAP chief after meeting his party’s Delhi MLAs and councillors.

Sharpening his attack against Mr. Modi, the Delhi CM said that the Prime Minister wants to stop all the good work in the Capital because the BJP could not do what the AAP has done regarding development.

“In Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and other States where they [BJP] have been in power for the last 30-35 years, they have not been able to fix one school or hospital. That is why they want to stop AAP and our good work,” he said.

Dispelling doubts about the ongoing projects in Delhi being affected due to the reshuffle in the Cabinet, Mr. Kejriwal said the Delhi government will execute its projects at twice the earlier speed.

“If today Manish Sisodiaji joins the BJP, all FIRs against him would go away, and he would be released from jail. There is huge anger against the BJP. They [BJP] cannot accept the fact that we won in Punjab. I want to tell the BJP that AAP is a storm and no one can stop us. No one can stop an idea whose time has come. And AAP’s time has come,” he said.

BJP’s objection

Objecting to Ms. Atishi’s appointment, the Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor, in a letter to the Delhi CM, questioned her “background”.

In his letter, Mr. Kapoor said that Ms. Atishi comes from a family with a communist background.

“Her surname ‘Marlena’ comes from ‘Mar’-Marxism and ‘Lena’-Leninism,” the BJP spokesperson wrote. He also told the Delhi CM that some of Ms. Atishi’s statements have been “soft towards Marxism, Leninism and Naxalism”.

“Ms. Atishi’s parents, who are associated with the Communist movement, had campaigned for the release of Afzal Guru, the mastermind of the 2001 Parliament attack,” he claimed.

“It is the prerogative of the Chief Minister to include a new MLA in his Cabinet,” Mr. Kapoor wrote, adding that Delhiites also have a right to have a Minister who is not the “favour of terrorists”.

Cap on Ministers

With the resignations of Mr. Sisodia and Mr. Jain, Delhi Cabinet was left with only five Ministers. Delhi can have a maximum of seven Ministers, including the Chief Minister, as per Article 239AA of the Constitution.

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