In a sudden move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday decided to remove Water Minister Kapil Mishra from his cabinet and induct AAP legislators Rajendra Pal Gautam and Kailash Gehlot as new faces.
Gehlot, MLA from Najafgarh, and Gautam, MLA from Seemapuri, will be sworn in as new ministers, a government official told IANS.
The decision was first known through a “reetweet” made by Kejriwal on Saturday evening. The rejig came days after the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) defeat in the municipal elections.
As journalist Vikrant Yadav tweeted: “Big breaking from Delhi government, Kapil Mishra out of Kejriwal cabinet. Kailash Gehlot and Rajendra Gautam will be New Ministers”, Kejriwal immediately retweeted the post, signalling his intent.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia later sought to explain the decision.
“Water management was not up to the mark, (though) Kapil Mishra made a lot of effort. CM decided to bring in Kailash Gahlot in his place,” he told reporters.
A government official also said that Mishra was removed over complaints concerning supply of water in the city.
“Since the situation of water supply was found not to be good during the municipal elections, and several MLAs also spoke about the same problem in their constituencies, so Kapil Mishra was removed from the post,” the official added.
“Gehlot has been brought in for outer Delhi’s representation while Gautam was awarded the post for SC representation in the cabinet,” the official told IANS.
Mishra, who is considered a close aide of AAP founder member Kumar Vishwas, told reporters after the decision that he received “no official communication yet”.
He also took a jibe at Kejriwal and his ministerial colleagues like Satyendar Jain, saying that he did not favour any of his relatives or daughter.
“I am the only minister with no corruption charges. No CBI enquiry against me. I did not favour any daughter or any relative. I exposed Shiela’s (Dixit) corruption,” Mishra said in a tweet.
Jain, who holds the Health portfolio, was accused of nepotism by opposition in the appointments of his daughter Soumya Jain and Nikunj Agarwal, a relative of Kejriwal’s wife, to government posts.
Mishra later also claimed that he had met Kejriwal on Saturday and conveyed that he would not tolerate delay in tanker scam report and would submit names of those who were involved in the delay to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
A government official, who did not want to be named, later said that Mishra did not meet the CM and was “telling a lie”.
Mishra also wondered if his ouster was linked to the exposure on the tanker scam which he was scheduled to make on Sunday.
He also denied the speculation that he would join another party.
AAP had witnessed an internal turmoil over the past few days after its debacle in the civic polls with several leaders calling for introspection. Vishwas had differed with Kejriwal on the main reasons for party’s defeat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party utilised the development to attack the Kejriwal government.