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AAP Picks Saurabh Bharadwaj, Atishi as Cabinet Ministers

Bharadwaj is likely to be assigned the PWD, power and home, and Atishi education, labour and tourism.
Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi

Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi. Image Courtesy: PTI

A day after the resignations of Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and health minister Satyendar Jain, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) picked MLAs Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi as Cabinet ministers on Wednesday.

Their names would be sent to lieutenant governor VK Saxena, who will forward them to the President for assent, sources told The Indian Express.

The AAP is expected to discuss ministerial berths and other key challenges during a meeting of MLAs and councillors convened by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday evening.

“Both of them [Bharadwaj and Atishi] are eligible and capable of doing the job well,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh told NDTV. “This is challenging time for us. Our two honest, truthful ministers who gave Delhi its health and education models are in jail,” he added.

Bhardwaj, who represents the Greater Kailash constituency, is the AAP’s chief spokesperson and the vice-chairman of Delhi Jal Board. He was a Cabinet minister in the 49-day AAP government in 2013-14. 

Atishi, who represents Kalkaji, is a member of the AAP’s political affairs committee and was an adviser to Sisodia, who held 18 portfolios, on education between 2015 and 2017. The Rhodes scholar has become the AAP’s prominent face in the last few years. 

Sources told The Indian Express that Bharadwaj is likely to be assigned the Public Works Department (PWD), and power and home departments, and Atishi education, labour and tourism.

Kailash Gahlot, who was assigned finance, PWD, home, power, planning, urban development, irrigation and flood control and water on Tuesday until new ministers are appointed, is expected to head finance and planning, the sources added.

“He has been in the Cabinet for a long time and has the responsibility of the revenue department. Finance and planning are key departments, especially when the annual Budget has to be presented,” an official told The Indian Express.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI in the liquor policy case on Sunday and remanded in five-day custody of the investigative agency by a special court on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court refused to provide relief to Sisodia when

he challenged his arrest and asked him to approach the High Court. When Sisodia’s counsel Abhishek Singhvi contended that his arrest was illegal as his name was not in the CBI chargesheet and no unaccounted cash was found on him, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, “Go to the High Court. Our doors are open, but we are not ready to hear it at this stage.”

Jain is lodged inside Tihar Jail on allegations of money laundering in a case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate.

In his three-page resignation letter, Sisodia wrote that he wants to stay away until “the charges are proven false” and dubbed them “nothing more than a conspiracy of cowards and weak people”.

Alleging that Kejriwal is the “target”, he wrote: “I and my God know that all these allegations are false. These allegations are in fact nothing more than a conspiracy of cowardly and weak people who are scared of Arvind Kejriwal’s politics of truth. I am not their target; you [Kejriwal] are their target.”

“Today, Arvind Kejriwal has become a name of hope in the eyes of crores of people across the country who are facing problems like economic crisis, poverty, unemployment, inflation and corruption,” he further wrote.

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