Kumar is the third minister to go from the Delhi cabinet in 18 months.
New Delhi: Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday sacked his social welfare minister, Sandeep Kumar, within half an hour of a CD containing objectionable material about Kumar reaching the government. Kumar is the third minister from the six who were sworn in alongside Kejriwal in February 2015 to be removed for alleged misconduct.
The decision to sack Kumar was announced by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. The CD showed a person, alleged to be Kumar, in a compromising position with two women. Elaborating on the issue, Sisodia said: “The CD came to us half-an-hour back. We saw the CD and took the decision to sack him immediately. AAP has zero tolerance for crime and corruption.”
Kejriwal is away in Gujarat, with Sisodia looking after affairs in Delhi. He also said, “We will not tolerate any such acts. We have 67 MLAs. If anyone including the Chief Minister is found involved in any wrongdoings, immediate action will be taken as AAP is different from other parties.”
Before Kumar, other ministers to be sent packing from Kejriwal’s cabinet were Jitendra Singh Tomar and Asim Mohammad Khan. While Tomar, who was law minister, was removed in June 2015 after he was arrested on the charge of possessing fake educational degrees, Khan, the food and supplies minister, was sacked after he was accused of allegedly demanding a bribe from a builder.
Soon after Kumar’s removal, Kejriwal tweeted about the controversy.
He also noted that the Sandeep Kumar was being removed from the Cabinet with immediate effect.
While several AAP leaders and journalists affiliated to the party lauded the bold move, Prashant Bhushan, an AAP founding member who was expelled last year and has now founded Swaraj Abhiyan, was quick to say that Kejriwal first appointed bribe-takers and degree-forgers, and was now taking credit for removing them after they were caught.
This prompted a response from AAP spokesperson Dilip K. Pandey, who charged that it was Bhushan who had approved Kumar’s name in 2013.
Meanwhile, AAP’s main political rivals in Delhi also jumped in to criticise the party’s selection process. The Delhi BJP demanded that Kejriwal should accept moral responsibility for picking such morally corrupt MLAs. “He must be rewarded for handing over Delhi’s governance to people with corrupt values. This has never happened in any government,” said Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta.
Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken also took to Twitter to make his displeasure felt over the entire issue.