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In Theatres Now: The AAP Crisis

In Theatres Now: The AAP Crisis


The Aam Aadmi Party is going through its worst crisis, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a corruption case. Three of his colleagues – Satyendar Jain, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh – are also behind bars. With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, will AAP – a part of the INDIA bloc – be able to turn its fortune around? 

Arvind Kejriwal: The Caged Chief

Arvind Kejriwal, the OG crusader against corruption in government, is behind bars in the Excise Policy case. His supporters feel that his anti-corruption drive ruffled enough feathers to land him in this sticky spot. The Delhi chief minister is in the ED custody till April 1. Since the inception of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2012, Kejriwal has been at the helm of party affairs. He’s also controlled the Delhi government for the last 10 years, taking his party to historical victories in the national capital for two consecutive terms. 

Kejriwal has faced several challenges, including a revolt by several of his trusted lieutenants, and losing close associates like Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, and Sanjay Singh. Now, he’s facing one of the toughest battles of his life: Lok Sabha elections in 2024 coinciding with his arrest. But the wily politician that he is, he prepared his political strategy before going to jail. Several individuals have been given definitive roles so that his absence isn’t felt massively.

Sunita Kejriwal: Sympathy Card

Sunita Kejriwal has been catapulted into a significant role within the Aam Aadmi Party. She’s using her unique appeal to win over the hearts of the public, primarily through video messages and regular press briefings. 


This appears to be a conscious step towards securing emotional support for the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal. Her role, integral to the AAP’s communication strategy, is conversely driven with a resolute mandate: endorse and amplify the message that the impressive brand that is Kejriwal is still present, powerful, and unwavering. And she executes this with poise and effectiveness, while also retaining a familiar backdrop in her video messages, photos of Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar. 

Interestingly, Sunita not only holds the Kejriwal surname, making her an inherent part of the brand, but also has an inherent charm. Her role is not restricted to simply reiterating the party’s narrative or defending its policies but is more about shaping a nuanced perspective about the party and its leader. 

Bhagwant Mann: Commanding Officer

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has had an impressive journey since he took over the administrative reins of the state. A close confidant of Arvind Kejriwal, Mann learnt the nuances of the political arena from the Delhi CM. The duo is often seen together in various political visits and rallies. 


As the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mann commands a larger state than Delhi, giving him an expansive playground to navigate and manage resources astutely. His administrative acumen was honed during his tenure as the party’s MP, as he gained insights into Delhi’s political circuit for over three years. 

Mann’s ascension was as momentous as it was sudden and Kejriwal’s arrest has catalysed his role expansion, propelling him to be the virtual No. 2 in the party. Mann’s oratory skills, which connect him to the masses, make this role even more significant. His credibility finds resonance not only in the AAP but also nationally.


Sandeep Pathak: Man of the Moment

Sandeep Pathak, an accomplished technocrat like Arvind Kejriwal, is a former professor at the esteemed IIT-Delhi who now helms the AAP’s organisational operations. But this is the first time he’s managing affairs without Kejriwal. 


Adept at understanding the language of statistics, Pathak is viewed as the lynchpin when it comes to the party’s fortunes, particularly when the electoral number game is of paramount importance. With an in-depth understanding of statistics, he is expected to help steer the party to electoral success. 

Pathak faces a critical litmus test right now: he will have to tread through the Lok Sabha elections in the absence of Kejriwal. His political mettle will be evaluated, and his leadership skills put to a stern test. The slew of responsibilities that rest on Pathak’s shoulders is indeed overwhelming. He will have to supervise broader strategies around Kejriwal’s arrest, plan campaign manoeuvres in Delhi, Punjab and other key regions, and also serve as the central coordinator with the leaders of the INDIA bloc.


Atishi: Media Manager

Atishi has had a meteoric rise. A first-time MLA, she transitioned from a novice legislator to a crucial minister in the AAP’s upper echelons in a very short duration.


It’s not, however, just her dedication that has led to this rise. The ongoing crisis in the party, starting with the arrests of Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, elevated her stature, shining a spotlight on her prudence and tactical acumen. 

Atishi is an astute and calculated speaker and has displayed an admirable knack for diplomacy, making her an indispensable asset to the party. A product of the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, Atishi is poised under pressure, as she not only helps run the Delhi government but also spearheads the attack against the BJP through various press conferences. 

Jasmine Shah & Saurabh Bharadwaj: The Backroom Boys

The crucial role of managing the day-to-day communication strategy, leading the narrative in the media, and curbing potential crises falls on two important figures: Jasmine Shah and Saurabh Bharadwaj. 


Bharadwaj, widely known as the GK boy, is a current Cabinet minister of the Delhi government. Shah, on the other hand, is a key behind-the-scenes player, instrumental in crafting public policy matters. This duo will now be leading the party’s optic warfare, as AAP navigates through this period of uncertainty. 

Bharadwaj has been one of the most vocal and visible faces of AAP in Delhi. Jasmine Shah, conversely, who has always shied away from the limelight, is no less effective in his role. 



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