AAP Minister Resigns Due to Ongoing Probe

The Asian Age.

India, Politics

Anand said he was dissatisfied over the AAP’s policy on corruption and can’t stay in the party in such a situation

Delhi Minister Raaj Kumar Anand. (PTI)

New Delhi: In a major jolt to the Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi minister Raaj Kumar Anand on Wednesday tendered his resignation from his post and the party’s membership. Amid the ongoing investigation into the liquor policy-linked money laundering case, Mr Anand said he was dissatisfied over the AAP’s policy on corruption and can’t stay in the party in such a situation. The AAP lost no time in accusing the BJP of using the ED and CBI as part of “Operation Lotus” to “break its ministers and MLAs”. Hitting back, the BJP said that the resignation of the minister was the beginning of the end of the AAP.

Earlier in the day, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal approached the Supreme Court against the Delhi high court order upholding his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering matter. Senior advocate Abhishek “Manu” Singhvi told the apex court that “this is urgent and is regarding the chief minister whose arrest is based on an un-relied document, suppressed from us”. Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud told Mr Singhvi: “I will look into the e-mail (seeking early listing of plea). Please send the mail.”

Mr Anand, who held about half-a-dozen portfolios including social welfare, SC/ST and labour, announced his resignation from the Delhi Cabinet and all party posts. Addressing a press conference, he took a swipe at the Delhi CM, saying: “From the Jantar Mantar, Mr Kejriwal had said the country will change once politics changes. The politics hasn’t changed but the politician has changed.”

In response to a query on the timing of his resignation, Mr Anand said: “It is not about timing. Till yesterday, we were under the impression that we are being framed, but after the high court verdict, it seems that there is something wrong at our end.” The high court on Tuesday upheld Mr Kejriwal’s arrest. The court also cited the ED's claim that the CM had conspired and was actively involved in use and concealment of the proceeds of crime to reject his plea against his arrest.

Mr Anand, an MLA from the Patel Nagar constituency, also alleged that Dalits were not given representation in the party. He said: “This party doesn't respect Dalit MLAs, councillors and ministers. In such circumstances, all Dalits feel cheated. We live in an inclusive society, but it is not wrong to talk about proportion. It is difficult for me to remain in the party with all these things, hence I am resigning from the post.”

Reacting to Mr Anand’s resignation, senior AAP leaders claimed this had vindicated the party’s stand that Mr Kejriwal's arrest was aimed at finishing the AAP. Addressing a press conference, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said the BJP was using the ED and CBI to “break our ministers and MLAs”. “It is ‘agnipariksha’ (trial by fire) of AAP ministers and MLAs,” he said.

Mr Singh asserted that although the resignation may demotivate some party workers, the AAP will largely stand strong against attempts to break the organisation. Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that Mr Anand may have even been threatened to quit the AAP.

Mr Singh said that earlier the BJP used to call Mr Anand corrupt “when a raid was conducted against him by the ED, but now the party will welcome him into its fold with garlands”.

Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said Mr Anand, who was with the AAP since the Anna movement, has answered the call of his own conscience. “His resignation is the beginning of the end of the AAP in Indian politics.”

Mr Anand had replaced Rajendra Pal Gautam as a minister in the Delhi Cabinet in November 2022. Mr Gautam had to step down as a minister after the BJP targeted him for his alleged anti-Hindu statements. He faced flak over his presence at a religious conversion event where Hindu deities were allegedly berated.

A year after assuming the post of the minister, the ED had reportedly carried out searches at the premises of Mr Anand in connection with another money-laundering case. The ED probe was based on a prosecution complaint filed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence alleging false declarations with respect to the import of goods from China to evade customs duty of over Rs 7 crores.

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