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Delhi chief kicks off election campaign after walking out of jail

The leader of India’s Aam Aadmi Party was arrested in a suspected liquor scam ahead of the polls 

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, has rejoined the campaign for India’s parliamentary election, less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court granted him a 21-day bail. 

The leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which governs the national capital region and the state of Punjab, was arrested in March on corruption charges. He has not been convicted and hearings in the case will continue. 

Kejriwal has denied all accusations against him and claimed he is the victim of a political witch-hunt by the ruling BJP party. In a speech in New Delhi on Saturday, the AAP leader accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of attempting to crush his party. 

“By arresting me, they [the BJP] have proven that they can arrest anyone without a case,” the politician claimed. A day before, moments after walking out of Tihar jail, Kejriwal called on the people to “save the country from dictatorship.”

During a press conference on Saturday the opposition leader also questioned the BJP’s stance on the retirement age of political leaders. 

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The INDIA bloc’s Loktantra Bachao rally at the Ramlila ground, New Delhi, India, March 31, 2024.
Delhi’s Chief Minister is in jail: How an anti-corruption accuser himself became the accused

He suggested that Modi, who will turn 75 next year, should resign, citing Modi’s own view in 2014 – when the BJP came to power – that politicians aged more than 75 should not hold any administrative posts in the government. Modi’s retirement would pave the way for Union Minister Amit Shah to become the prime minister, Kejriwal suggested. 

His remarks triggered an angry response from Shah, who said Modi would return as prime minister and continue to “lead the country till 2029.”

Meanwhile, Kejriwal also questioned the ruling party’s ability to form a government by winning a clear majority in the general election. 

India’s election to elect 543 members of the lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) to form the next government has been dubbed the world’s “largest democratic exercise,” with over 960 million people eligible to vote. The first three phases (out of seven) were held on April 19, 26 and May 7, while the remaining phases will be held on May 13, 20 and 25, and June 1. The vote counting will take place on a single day – June 4.

Modi has persistently questioned the alleged lack of unity and leadership in the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc, of which Kejriwal’s AAP is a part.

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Kejriwal’s bail has been granted until June 1, the last day of polling. While the politician is permitted to campaign in the election, a slew of restrictions have been imposed on him by the court. He is not allowed to visit the chief minister’s office or the Delhi Secretariat, and cannot sign any official documents without clearance from the lieutenant governor of Delhi. Kejriwal is required to return to custody on June 2.

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May 11, 2024 at 08:26PM

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