NEW DELHI: Arvind Kejriwal will run the capital from his prison cell, a senior aide said on Tuesday, amidst growing calls by rivals who demand that he should resign.

The chief minister of New Delhi and a key leader in an opposition alliance formed to compete against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming elections, was arrested on Thursday, in connection with a long-running corruption probe.

Atishi Marlena Singh, New Delhi’s Education Minister and member of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man Party, AAP), said “statutory and constitutional provisions” permit him to remain in his post while behind bars.

“We are clear that Arvind Kejriwal will rem­ain the chief minister of Delhi,” Singh, 42, told AFP.

“If he were to resign when there has been no trial or conviction, it opens up the route for other opposition chief ministers to be removed,” she added.

India’s focal financial investigation agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which arrested Kejriwal, has launched probes into at least four other state chief ministers or their family members.

All the investigations involve political opponents of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While Modi enjoys high levels of support amongst his backers, critics accuse him of using law enforcement agencies to intimidate opposition leaders.

Kejriwal, 55, denies the charges against him.

His supporters held a rally in the city on Tuesday, demanding his release and said charges against him are politically motivated and aimed at sidelining challengers of Modi ahead of the polls.

Modi’s political opponents and international rights groups have long sounded the alarm on India’s shrinking democratic space.

“All the centre has to do is file some fake cases, and then the ED goes ahead and arrests them”, according to Singh.

Nearly a billion Indians will vote to elect a new government, in the six-week-long parliamentary elections, starting on April 19, which is the largest democratic exercise in the world.

Numerous analysts see Modi’s re-election as a foregone conclusion, partly due to the resonance of his assertive Hindu-nation­alist politics with members of the country’s majority faith.

Hundreds of BJP loyalists held a rival march through New Delhi on Tuesday, chanting in support for Modi and demanding Kejriwal’s resignation.

“You can run a gang from jail but not a government.” BJP lawmaker Manoj Tiwari, told the crowd. “A government cannot be run from prison”.

In February, Jharkhand state’s chief minister Hemant Soren was arrested and jailed on corruption charges.

Soren, who denies all charges, resigned and handed over power to a colleague.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2024

Opinion

In defamation’s name

In defamation’s name

It provides yet more proof that the undergirding logic of public authority in Pakistan is legal and extra-legal coercion rather than legitimised consent.

Editorial

Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...
ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...