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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 22: The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was expected to get the power in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on a platter. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power in the local bodies for 15 years, and evidently faces enormous anti-incumbency in the December 4 elections. But the AAP may have allowed the BJP to strongly stage a comeback in the MCD elections.

The BJP by weaponizing the jailed Satyendra Jain is seeking to recover the lost grounds. The AAP had committed the moral lapse by not asking Jain to resign after the Enforcement Directorate went after the Delhi Minister, and the court sent him to Tihar Jail. The people of Delhi, who have the highest per capital income in the country, has to account for a Minister, who is in the jail for several months on the charges of financial irregularities. This is too ugly for the AAP, which had made the debut in the electoral politics riding on the promise of alternative politics.

That Jain was not sacked by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal gives enough fodder for speculations. Indeed, Nawab Malik, the jailed NCP minister in the erstwhile Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government, had also not quit. Partha Chatterjee, the number two in the West Bengal government, has also not quit after being jailed following the ED probe against him. Kejriwal may look at a club of jailed ministers from the Opposition ranks to justify his moral lapse. But his party is struggling to defend Jain’s deeds in Tihar Jail. This surely is the worst advertisement that the AAP could have thought of in the MCD elections.

If Jain was not enough to rock the boat of AAP with his CCTV clips playing 24X7 on television and YouTube, Kejriwal-led outfit faces serious allegations for selling party tickets in the MCD elections. There had been some serious questions against the AAP about the choice of the nominees who were sent to the Rajya Sabha from Delhi and Punjab. The Rajya Sabha MPs from the ranks of the AAP, who represent Delhi, have least of the credentials to justify their current positions.

There appears to be too many allegations against the AAP for selling tickets, and the party has not yet been able to given any cogent explanations against the charges. That the known AAP faces are seen in the video clips negotiating financial deals for arranging party tickets in the elections is too serious a charge to be ignored, which should also invite the censor of the Election Commission for grave moral, ethical and behavioural lapses.

The AAP is indeed in a hurry to become a national party. The Punjab victory has pumped enormous adrenaline in the veins of the Kejriwal club. This urgency to grow big to position suitably ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections has exposed frailties of the AAP. This outfits appears to be just another brick in the wall.

(Author is political editor, The Raisina Hills)

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