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AAP shares governance plan as Kejriwal gets no relief | Latest News Delhi

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will meet two of his ministers in Tihar jail every week and monitor the progress of work under various departments, officials of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said on Monday as they outlined a detailed plan to run the state administration from prison, even as a local court extended the CM’s judicial custody till April 23.

AAP volunteers campaigning at the  Laxmi Nagar Metro station on Monday. (Raj K Raj/HT photo)

Addressing a press conference two hours after Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann met Kejriwal in jail, AAP national general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak said the chief minister will give ministers “guidelines and directions” during the biweekly meetings.

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“All the technical aspects will be looked into. We will look into all the legal processes and procedures. The meeting will be held every week and proper review of the departments will be done,” said Pathak.

Meanwhile, Tihar Jail officials confirmed that Kejriwal added Delhi ministers Atishi, Kailash Gahlot and Saurabh Bharadwaj to the list of 10 visitors who are allowed to meet him twice a week in prison.

Asked if the Delhi government will seek the court’s permission to convert the jail into a temporary office to facilitate the CM’s proposed meetings, Pathak said, “We will do whatever is legally feasible.”

To be sure, the review of a government department involves meeting with ministers as well as several officers, including the head of the department.

The AAP has, since Kejriwal’s arrest on March 21, maintained that the party’s national convener will remain Delhi’s chief minister and carry out his official functions from prison.

Delhi is in uncharted waters given that it is unprecedented for a chief minister to run the government from prison. Three pleas have been filed in the Delhi high court seeking Kejriwal’s removal as chief minister, and while the court has rejected all three petitions, saying that it could not act in the matter, it stressed that it was up to the President and Delhi’s lieutenant governor to act if they deemed fit. “Everything cannot be done by the court… The LG and the President of India have to consider it,” the bench had said during one of the hearings.

Mann and Pathak on Monday met Kejriwal for 33 minutes through a ‘mulakat jangla’ (meeting window) in jail 2 of the Tihar prison complex.

Pathak said Kejriwal asked him to convey to all the MLAs to go from door to door in their areas and meet the public to address their concerns.

“The MLAs should try and solve issues that the people are facing. He said that the MLAs will have to cover for his absence by working twice as hard,” he said.

Delhi has six cabinet ministers, including Kejriwal, though he does not hold a portfolio. The party’s social welfare minister Raaj Kumar Anand resigned from the party on April 10, though the party is still to officially accept his resignation yet.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achary said, “The meetings inside the jail can be held with the permission of the court or the permission of the jail officials. Existing laws do not bar a chief minister from functioning from jail, but the process is riddled with functional challenges. The review meeting usually involves several officers besides the ministers. Such meetings can be held only after the permission of the competent authority.”

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said Pathak’s claims are misleading. “The government has come to a standstill,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, special judge Kaveri Baweja extended Kejriwal’s custody by eight days after he was produced before the court through video-conferencing on the expiry of custody granted earlier.

The ED sought extension of Kejriwal’s custody by 14 days, arguing that the investigation was at a crucial stage.The judge, however, allowed an extension till April 23, noting that the judicial custody of some co-accused people in the case, including BRS leader K Kavitha, ends on the same date.

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