11 May 2024

India elections: opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal granted bail

India is in the middle of a seismic general election, with around a billion people voting at a million polling stations over a seven-week period.

Results aren’t expected until June, but most commentators assume Prime Minister Narendra Modi will comfortably hold onto power. His opponents claim India is on its way to dictatorship.

But the country’s top court has granted temporary bail to a prominent critic, who will now be free to campaign.

Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest

Twists and turns of this election happen at breakneck speed. Every day you switch on the news and there’ll be five headlines from across the country, allegations of corruption or something new that Modi has said that’s deemed to be controversial. But one of the cases that’s really captured the nation’s attention is the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal. He’s Delhi’s chief minister.

Opposition jubilation

In this footage there were scenes of absolute jubilation from opposition parties on Friday after Mr Kejriwal was released from prison on bail. The opposition are describing it as a victory for truth, and they’re ecstatic that he can now campaign ahead of polling in Delhi.

Kickback claims

The backstory to this is that Mr Kejriwal was arrested in March. He’s accused of taking a whopping one billion rupees – that’s £10 million – in kickbacks or bribes from liquor contractors in relation to his own alcohol sales policy. Mr Kejriwal’s bail ends just days before the election results were announced.

Questions to answer

And of course, the BJP is saying that he still has loads of questions to answer about the allegations of corruption. But there is no doubt that the opposition are taking this as a huge win. And some are even going further than that, suggesting that this moment disrupts the prevailing narrative that Modi is sure to win this election.