Arrest puts Kejriwal govt in a spot; Budget 1st challenge

New Delhi: The Arvind Kejriwal government is staring at a possible crisis with the CBI arresting Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who holds as many as 18 of the total 33 departments, including education, finance and home.

The arrest of Sisodia comes after that of Satyendar Jain, Delhi’s the then health minister, in June last year. Both have led what the AAP describes as the successful transformation of Delhi’s education and health services, contributing to the party’s popularity and continued electoral success.

Their absence leaves Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with no heavyweight lieutenant to implement his governance agenda in Delhi. The immediate challenge for Kejriwal is to present the Delhi government Budget as scheduled and find Sisodia’s replacement.

Sources in the AAP said Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot may present the Delhi government Budget for the next financial year. “As there was a possibility that the deputy chief minister may be arrested by the CBI, Gahlot was attending Budget-related meetings for the last few days,” an AAP functionary said. According to the Delhi government’s websites, there are a total of 33 departments.

Of these, Sisodia looks after 18, including health, education, PWD, services, finance, power, home and urban development. He is also in charge of all other departments not specifically allotted to any minister.

Apart from Kejriwal, the Delhi government has six cabinet ministers, including jailed Satyendar Jain who is still a minister without a portfolio.

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