Updated: September 1, 2015 11:19:53 am
Barely two months after he was appointed the Delhi Law Minister, Kapil Mishra was relieved of the portfolio by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday. It has now been handed over to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
The move comes three days after Mishra wrote to Kejriwal, recommending an FIR against former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) water tanker “scam”. In the letter, Mishra had expressed apprehension over possible attempts to “remove” him. “This is a big expose. I am afraid that immediately after this, there will be attempts to destabilise our government in Delhi, and also to remove me from this chair,” wrote Mishra.
The MLA from Karawal Nagar, Mishra was appointed minister for law, tourism, water, art and culture and Gurdwara Elections in June, after his predecessor Jitender Singh Tomar resigned following his arrest on charges of allegedly faking educational certificates. He was not available for comments.
Sisodia will be the third law minister since the AAP came to power in February, after its landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly elections.
Government officials said the decision taken by Kejriwal was a “minor re-allocation of work”. Sources said Mishra, who is also the minister in-charge for water, was required to focus on issues of water supply in the national capital.
Cabinet minister Gopal Rai said handing over the law portfolio to Sisodia was not a demotion for Mishra. “He has a huge task of solving Delhi’s water problems and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has done very well under him. The decision was taken to enable him to concentrate on resolving the capital’s water problems, which is one of the government’s targets,” said Rai.
Government sources said that while water is a big project for the AAP government that will require the concerned minister to devote a lot of time and effort to it, the tourism department is also likely to undergo major changes in the months to come. Hence, they said, the chief minister decided to relieve Mishra of the law portfolio.
However, sources also said the government felt that a senior minister was required to handle the law portfolio as Mishra – who joined Kejriwal’s Cabinet after Tomar’s exit – was “still very new”.
Sources said at the time of his appointment, senior officials felt no need to hand over the law portfolio to a senior minister as Mishra was appointed to replace Tomar.
The is the second cabinet reshuffle after the AAP government handed over the home ministry, also held by Tomar, to Satyendar Jain in April. Jain holds other important portfolios like health, power and public works department.
Sisodia, the second-in-command in the government, will now hold the law portfolio along with important ministries like education, finance, planning, information technology, urban development and every other department that is not assigned to a minister.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyay termed the Cabinet reshuffle a political ploy. He said the sudden change of Mishra has finally exposed the connivance between Kejriwal and the Congress.
Upadhyay said Mishra had indicated last week that the DJB tanker scam inquiry is complete and that he intends to seek Kejriwal’s approval to file a FIR against Dikshit and others.
“In this context, the Law Department’s opinion would have been sought. With Mishra as its minister the law department would have pressed for approval speedily. After his alliance with Bihar, Kejriwal cannot politically afford to have Dikshit arrested. Thus, the decision to suddenly shunt out Mishra,” stated Upadhyay.
Portfolios held by Deputy CM:
> Urban Development
> Information Technology
> Land and Building
> Law, Justice & Legislative affairs
> Administrative Reforms
All other departments not specifically allotted to a minister
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