AAP-Jung conflict: the rise and fall of Delhi Law Minister Jitender Tomar
Jitender Singh Tomar appears to have become a casualty of the crossfire between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.
Whether Tomar, Minister of Law and Justice in the Delhi government, holds a fake degree or not is a matter still to be settled by the Delhi High Court.
Police action in a case that a court of law is still hearing does cause suspicion and it is further accentuated by the manner in which the arrest was made.
Aam Aadmi Party leaders have gone to town crying foul, equating the arrest with an emergency-like situation.
The case has, however, brought into spotlight a politician who till two years ago was just a small time political worker.
From a ground worker to minister
He worked for some time for Vats, looking after several of his projects, including a hospital and an educational institution.
Tomar left the Congress when he found himself unable to rise further in the party. He joined AAP in 2013, worked for the party in the run up to the Delhi Assembly elections and managed to secure a ticket to contest the polls from the Tri Nagar constituency.
Is the arrest of Delhi Law Minister Jitender Tomar a fight for control of Delhi?
Even though Tomar lost to BJP's Nand Kishore Garg by about 3,000 votes, he stayed with the party and continued to work towards popularising the party on the ground. His skills as a ground worker are reported to have once again made him shine in front of the party high command during 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
When Delhi went to polls once again in 2015, AAP retained faith in Tomar and fielded him from the same constituency and against the same opponent, sitting BJP MLA Nand Kishore Garg. Tomar won this time, with a margin of around 23,000 votes.
Fake degree allegations
The controversy over his degrees began in February this year, before he was elected as MLA. Delhi-based advocate Santosh Kumar Sharma filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court, claiming that Tomar had disclosed 'false information' in his affidavit filed with the Election Commission while filing his nomination.
Sharma alleged that Tomar had submitted a fake undergraduate degree in science from Avadh University to secure enrollment in the Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies College, Munger, Bihar. The Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) had enrolled Tomar as a lawyer based on a law degree from this college.
The High Court issued notices to Tomar, BCD and the Bar Council of India (BCI) on the plea and subsequently also asked them and the Election Commission to conduct inquiries. According to BCD Chairman KK Manan, the council asked Delhi Police to investigate and the authenticity of neither of Tomar's two degrees has been verified.
A twist in the case
An interesting twist came up in the case after the High Court also issued notices to Avadh University and the law institute in Bihar for their response on allegations of the degrees being fake.
The institute confirmed to the High Court that Tomar had indeed been a bona-fide LLB student, while the affiliating university of the institute said that the roll numbers cited by Tomar could not be found in its records.
The High Court is scheduled to take up the matter once again on July 16. Meanwhile, Delhi Police attempted to answer allegations of a conspiracy behind the arrest, saying at a press conference that the arrest was based purely on the FIR and no other meaning should be taken out.
According to Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat, documents submitted to prove Tomar as advocate and his B.Sc graduation degree along with marksheet appear to be forged as per BCD's complaint. Bhagat added that the Controller of Examination has also verified that no degree or marksheet has been issued in Tomar's name.
Fall-out of AAP-BJP tussle?
The police produced Tomar before a court in Saket after holding him at a police station for several hours. The AAP government in Delhi led by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia fought back with vehemence. Sisodia termed the arrest illegal, raising alarm of an 'emergency-like situation' and noted that this was probably an attempt 'to teach the AAP a lesson' for its anti-corruption stance. AAP government also appeared to have initiated retaliatory measures, as it ordered the transfer of the Home Secretary.
It will not be far-fetched to read these developments as another manifestation of the tussle for power between the AAP and BJP, over the question of full statehood for Delhi. The signals so far indicated that the AAP government was refusing to back down in the face of the many kinds of pressures that the Union government is applying through the office of the LG.
But Tomar's arrest is being seen as a strong attack from the BJP as the Delhi Police reports to the Union Home Ministry. This has further intensified the power struggle and there is no telling at which point will it stop.
Tomar's fate, meanwhile, will be in the hands of the Delhi High Court.