Kejriwal issues 2nd order from ED custody; what next for Varun Gandhi

The AAP hopes to get sympathy votes while its rivals expect Kejriwal’s arrest to work in their favour as they have targeted him from continuing as the chief minister

Delhi Police use water cannon to disperse BJP workers during protest demanding the resignation of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (HT PHOTO)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest dealt a major blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of the April-June national polls. The AAP hopes to get sympathy votes while its rivals expect Kejriwal’s arrest to work in their favour as they have targeted him from continuing as the chief minister and questioned how would the Delhi administration run in such a situation.

Kejriwal appeared undeterred as he issued a second order on Tuesday from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody, asking health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj to address the shortage of medicines and diagnostic tests at mohalla clinics and hospitals. The second order was issued a day before the Delhi high court was due to hear Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest in connection with alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. Delhi’s Tihar Jail officials separately held meetings over the possibility of Kejriwal landing up at India’s largest prison when his ED custody ends.

What next for Varun Gandhi?

Member of Parliament Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday invited Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi to join the Congress after the outspoken lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls.He praised Gandhi’s leadership and clean image, suggesting the BJP denied him a ticket due to his Gandhi family connection. Jitin Prasada has replaced Varun Gandhi as the BJP’s nominee from Pilibhit. Prasada, who defected to the BJP from Congress in 2019, was elected to the Uttar Pradesh assembly in 2021.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav maintained his party doors were open for all when asked about the denial of BJP ticket to Varun Gandhi. Bhagwat Saran Gangwar, the SP’s candidate for Pilibhit, on Thursday said he would be happy to make way for Varun Gandhi if the party chose him. Pilibhit will go to polls during the first phase of voting on April 19. March 27 is the last day for nomination for this phase.

Pre-poll violence in West Bengal

“What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow,” said Gopal Krishna Gokhale, a national movement leader about the state known for its rich culture and home to icons such as Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose. Poll violence has, however, over the decades sullied the state’s image. Some argue that the need to control the panchayats and gram sabhas—the critical balancing force in Bengal’s political structure—is the main reason for violence. Other blamed the legacy of the Left’s rule.

At least five people were injured in clashes between workers of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP at Kumirmari, an island in the Sunderbans, ahead of the general elections. Violence has also reported from South 24 Parganas and Murshidabad districts since Monday

Mayawati’s political choices

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who is fighting for survival, is working on a coalition of Dalit-Muslim-Other Backward Class-upper castes to regain lost ground. Mayawati’s choice of candidates reflects careful caste calculus and the message that her support is wide-based and across castes. A Congress leader on Tuesday said her move to field significant Muslim candidates could hurt the prospects of the SP-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

Mani Shankar Aiyar out of the poll race in Tamil Nadu

The Congress on Tuesday named five more candidates for Lok Sabha elections – four in Chhattisgarh and one in Tamil Nadu. R Sudha has been named as the Congress candidate from Tamil Nadu’s Mayiladuthurai. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam contested Mayiladuthurai constituency in 2019. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar represented the constituency thrice earlier.

Sitharaman versus Ramesh

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday hit back at Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh after he questioned her over ‘Atal Pension Yojana’, calling it a ‘poorly designed scheme’. Ramesh, who shared an article claiming Atal Pension Yojana accounts were being opened without approval, called the scheme a paper tiger that needs officials to hoodwink and coerce people into participating in it. “It’s a fitting representation of the Modi Government’s policymaking: headline management, with few benefits actually reaching the people!” Ramesh said in a post on X.

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