Raaj Kumar Anand addressing the media in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Raaj Kumar Anand addressing the media in New Delhi on Wednesday.
| Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Delhi’s Social Welfare Minister Raaj Kumar Anand on Wednesday resigned from his post and also gave up his primary membership of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying he had joined a party that was born out of the movement against corruption but had itself got stuck in the “quicksand of corruption”.

Mr. Anand’s is the first high-profile exit from AAP since the party’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in connection with a money laundering case linked to the now-scrapped 2020-21 excise policy.

The Patel Nagar MLA was inducted into the Delhi Cabinet in 2022 after Seemapuri MLA Rajendra Pal Gautam – another Dalit face of the party – resigned as Minister after a controversy erupted over an event at which more than 10,000 people repeated 22 vows that B.R. Ambedkar had administered to his followers in 1956 while Mr. Gautam was on stage.

Under ED scanner

Mr. Anand, who held the Social Welfare and several other portfolios, was under the scanner of the ED that conducted searches on November 2, 2023 as part of investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against him and several of his associates. The Central agency, in a release dated November 3 last year, had said, “During the search operations, evidences relating to unaccounted business investments and hawala payments sent to China during 2023 were recovered from key employees of Raaj Kumar Anand. Cash of ₹74 lakh and various incriminating documents/digital records were recovered and seized.”

While Mr. Anand did not give any indication of whether he will be joining another party, he took potshots at AAP saying the party was not respecting its Dalit MLAs, councillors and Ministers and that it was difficult for him to remain in such a party. “They put Ambedkar’s picture in every office but do not follow his ideals. None of the AAP’s 13 MPs is a Dalit or someone from the backward community,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I entered politics when Mr. Kejriwal said that if politics changes, the country will change. But today, I say with regret that politics did not change but political leaders did.”

Mr. Anand said AAP does not have the moral right to continue in the government any longer. “Till yesterday, we were under the impression that we are being framed, but after the High Court verdict [dismissing Mr. Kejriwal’s plea challenging the arrest by ED], it seems that there is something wrong at our end,” he said. “I do not want my name to be associated with corruption.”

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