People on the streets divided over Kejriwal’s arrest

Published - March 31, 2024 12:43 am IST - New Delhi:

Senior AAP leader and Delhi Minister Gopal Rai interacting with the public in Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar during the ‘Main Bhi Kejriwal’ campaign last year.

Senior AAP leader and Delhi Minister Gopal Rai interacting with the public in Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar during the ‘Main Bhi Kejriwal’ campaign last year. | Photo Credit: File Photo

While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has pulled out all the stops to muster public support for its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is in Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody on corruption charges, the response of people on the streets seems divided between scepticism regarding the “intention” behind his arrest and the feeling that he must have committed some wrong.

Mr. Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 in an excise policy-linked money laundering case and sent to ED custody a day later. On Thursday, a city court extended CM’s ED remand till April 1.

For some, like Sitaram, an autorickshaw driver who lives in west Delhi, the CM’s arrest does not change anything. “Last week, the Chief Minister was arrested. Tomorrow, someone else will be held. But what does that change for the common man? He has to continue toiling every day,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by Ijtaba Mohammad, a cab driver, “Anything is possible in politics. These things are beyond the grasp of the common person.”

However, Ashish Chandra, a south Delhi-based lawyer who works at a private firm, raised doubts about the grounds on which Mr. Kejriwal had been arrested. He said the evidence based on which Mr. Kejriwal was arrested has still not been shared with the public.

“If a probe agency had proof of corruption against someone like the Chief Minister, they would have shared it publicly by now. The ED has done no such thing,” the lawyer said.

In December last year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ran a month-long signature campaign called ‘Main Bhi Kejriwal’, seeking people’s feedback on whether the CM should resign in the event of his arrest. The party claimed that a majority of the one crore people it reached out to said that Mr. Kejriwal should continue running the government even if he gets arrested.

Dinesh, a rickshaw puller, said the AAP’s drive was pointless because “Kejriwal is doing what he wants anyway”. Mr. Dinesh, who lives in a JJ colony in Munirka, believes that “if Kejriwal has been arrested, he must have committed some wrong. There is no smoke without fire”.

Sonia, a south Delhi-based banker, said, “I am not aware of such a campaign, but it is very important to run drives like those at this stage. Citizens should be allowed to decide what happens with their elected representatives.”

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