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Crest and trough of Sisodia’s political journey

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By Sidharth Mishra

About two decades ago, this writer first came to know Manish Sisodia, one of the two jailed erstwhile ministers of Arvind Kejriwal government. There was a seminar at Miranda House on Right to Information in which Kejriwal was participating. Sheila Dikshit government had just brought the Right to Information (RTI) Act, in which Kejriwal had played an important role.

Then an activist, Kejriwal had convinced Dikshit about the need to have such an act for better functioning of the government. This act was later dovetailed into the central act, which was brought by Manmohan Singh government a few years later.

During the course of conversation post the seminar, Kejriwal had mentioned about a young journalist who was dedicatedly working with him for the cause of Right to Information. This journalist went by the name of Manish Sisodia. No wonder Sisodia has remained most trusted lieutenant of Kejriwal as their relationship goes to the days when Kejriwal was hardly known. In fact, Kejriwal himself was introduced to Dikshit by the veteran people’s rights activist Aruna Roy.

While many a people boarded onto Kejriwal’s bandwagon and many left for varied reasons, Sisodia had been a constant companion. There is story about Kejriwal, Sisodia and Anna Hazare sleeping at veteran cop and rights activist Kiran Bedi’s residence a day before they launched India Against Corruption movement a decade ago.

The movement started from outside 7 Jantar Mantar Road, which was then residence of another activist Swami Agnivesh. It was Sisodia who held fort as anchor on the stage, ironically exhorting people to ‘rise against corruption’. A decade later the trial court has found him to be the architect of the liquor scam which has taken place in Delhi.

The Jantar Mantar demonstration was highly successful leading to a much bigger demonstration at Ramlila Maidan, a few days later. Growing in stature, Kejriwal now needed his most trusted aide besides him as he went negotiating with the high and mighty. Thus the anchoring on the stage was handed over to a poet named Kumar Vishwas, who became quite a rage.

The Kejriwal bandwagon moved on a determined track of political ascendance and from the group of people working ‘closely’ with him, there was only one person Manish Sisodia who somewhat had the knowledge what next move could be.

Sisodia was also instrumental in bringing many people in close contact with Kejriwal selling to them the Utopian dream of an ideal state. No wonder many of these people left as Kejriwal frequently changed tracks, their annoyance was more with Sisodia than his leader. After all it was Sisodia who ‘roped them in’.

Sisodia, who had once earlier put on stake his career in journalism to join activism, has once again jeopardised his career in politics by playing the political henchman from Delhi Chief Minister, at least that’s what prima facie appears from liquor scam case. As Kejriwal’s deputy Sisodia did all the hatchet job, which kept his leader free to espouse their party’s cause in different states.

Ever since the investigative agencies came into play, Sisodia has been trying to take refuge in variously hued political gimmicks like playing heir to the legacy of medieval Rajputana warrior Maharana Pratap to one of the best known martyrs’ of freedom struggle Bhagat Singh. These acts have not yielded much results as the agencies have gone around professionally building up their case.

Now, while rejecting Sisodia’s bail plea, a city court has said that the AAP leader seems to be the architect of the criminal conspiracy in the matter. The court also said that Sisodia’s release might adversely impact the ongoing investigation and “seriously hamper” its progress.

This has been the story of crest and trough of jailed Sisodia. Will Kejriwal continue to have him on his bandwagon is something to be watched?

(First published in The Morning Standard)  


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