AAP Goverment’s First month in Office

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One month in office, TOI takes stock of


AAP govt’s promise




One month in office, TOI takes stock of AAP govt's promises and delivery
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal
TOI takes stock of what the AAP government has done over a month and finds some initiatives faltering and a few hitting the target. But a month is too short to measure success or failure


Anti-graft helpline 

Launched on January 8, the helpline aimed at “empowering every citizen of the city” by allowing them to conduct sting operations on bribe-seeking officials has received about one lakh calls in 20 days. Official sources said 50% of these calls had been attended but only 1,200 complaints were found to be serious enough to pursue. Ironically, the number of arrests made as a result of the sting operations remains at three and does not support the figures given by the chief minister’s office. Government sources say this low rate of arrests has prompted chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to seek removal of five senior officers of the Anti-Corruption Branch. “With a new team joining, we are confident that the arrest rate will go up,” said a senior officer.


Within hours of coming to power, the government announced a Rs 220-crore subsidy to slash tariff by 50% for consumption up to 400 units. Next came the announcement of a CAG audit of discoms, forcing the Reliance and Tata Power utilities to move court. The case delayed the audit but it is expected to start soon now. This was followed by a new meter testing drive and a helpline for those who suffer unscheduled outages for hours. AAP tried to waive the “inflated” bills of people who had not paid up since its pre-poll bijli andolan but had to step back under criticism.


The government has decided to make prescription of generic drugs compulsory in state-run hospitals but no step has been taken to ensure the availability of generic drugs in stores. Health minister Satyendra Jain has visited more than 25 hospitals in a month and admits there are many problems. He has invited suggestions on his email ID aapdelhihealth@gmail.com. Officials said more than 2,000 mails have been received and the suggestions range from starting evening OPDs to super-specialty services like heart surgeries and transplants in state-run hospitals.


Instead of lending private schools a sympathetic ear and overturning the new nursery guidelines, education minister Manish Sisodia has given parents a helpline for complaints and boards with grievance-redress information at schools. Volunteers have checked schools and have been randomly checking with parents who call up the helpline. They have also “inspected” government schools for availability of “facilities”. Sisodia has made ways for including common people in college governing bodies, but has drawn flak for trying to reserve seats for Delhiites in DU colleges.


The government still hasn’t engaged gears as far as transport is concerned. The only decision taken so far is to go to the Supreme Court for 50,000 more auto permits. CNG price hike, BRT, digitized transport database, GPS in public service vehicles, buses for the DTC as well as cluster buses, more personnel in the enforcement wing: these issues still await a decision. One step that the government took—to take away prosecution powers against autorickshaws and taxis from Delhi traffi c policewas aborted at the last moment. The policy on e-rickshaws has apparently been cleared but is yet to be implemented.

Jan Lokpal Bill 

Even before the el
ection results were out, Arvind Kejriwal promised to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill on December 28, 2013. A month later, his government says the draft bill is in its final stage and will be put up for discussion before the cabinet on January 28. The bill is likely to be passed in Ramlila Maidan before mid-February, say sources. The government has said it will call a special assembly session after the cabinet clears the bill that will be on the lines of Uttarakhand’s repealed Lokayukta Act and will cover the chief minister, the cabinet and all government servants, including IAS and IPS officers. The judiciary, however, will not be covered.

Women’s security 

The CM’s dharna outside Rail Bhavan was purportedly due to police inaction in cases of crime against women. Women and child development minister Rakhi Birla has been making surprise checks late in the night since she took charge but the promise of raising a commando force to provide security to anyone in distress—with special focus on women—is far from reality. Arvind Kejriwal announced the formation of ‘Mahila Suraksha Dal’ employing former army personnel and martial arts trainers. But no training has started so far and women are still as insecure and vulnerable as they were before AAP came to power.


Within a week of taking oath, the CM implemented a scheme to provide up to 20kl of free water to each family. Simultaneously, he dealt a blow to heavy users of water, increasing their tariff by 10% and stipulating that they would be charged even for the fi rst 20kl on exceeding the free limit. The sop will not benefi t the lakhs of consumers who do not have metered connections. The CM is working to rein in corruption in Delhi Jal Board. He has made the water tanker service more effi cient, taken over unauthorized tube well connections, and is going over files pertaining to meters and the public-private partnership projects that are allegedly steeped in corrupt practices.

Janta darbar 

Less than two weeks into office, the CM called a “Janta Durbar” to hear people’s grievances, on January 11. A plan was made for the CM and his ministers to meet people by turns throughout the week. But the first durbar on the road outside the secretariat was a fiasco that nearly resulted in a stampede. The CM fled to the safety of the secretariat while his ministers scrambled in the midst of the crowd. Many people went back unheard, and those who stayed saw the CM promise a better arrangement next time from the secretariat roof-top. There was no next time, though.

Night shelters 

Taking strong objection to the large number of homeless in Delhi and making it a priority issue, Kejriwal on January 1 issued directions to all SDMs to carry out night vigils to identify sites for new shelters within four days. The SDMs reported finding 4,000 men, women and children sleeping in the open, largely in 212 clusters. The CM ordered replacement of all tents with porta cabins and more such shelters, but the minister in-charge struggled to cut the red tape and set up tents under flyovers and shelter people in unusable buses. The Delhi Urban Shelter Board added 25 porta cabins to its 175 shelters. Another 34 porta cabins relocated from schools are expected to be ready by January 28.

APMC reform 

Taking a strong stand against the alleged corruption in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), the new labour minister, Girish Soni, has removed the chairman and the vice-chairman of the organization. The decision was taken after the minister reportedly received complaints of mismanagement and corruption against the senior APMC officials from mandi traders. The charges included taking bribes, siphoning off funds, not paying minimum wages to guards, poor sanitation, theft, bungling in licences, etc. Soni will set up an enquiry against both officials and order an audit of APMC for the past three years.


Environmentalists have applauded the government’s decision to move the Millennium Bus Depot from the Yamuna bank. Made as a temporary structure during Commonwealth Games in 2010, it continues to encroach upon the river bank. On January 15, the government decided to submit an affidavit to the high court declaring its intention to shift the depot. Kejriwal’s declaration that protection of Delhi’s natural resources is crucial has also won him supporters among activists.


The Aam Aadmi Party manifesto talks of simplifying the valueadded tax (VAT) system. Soon after becoming chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal extended the date for filling up two categories of VAT forms for traders till January 31. “The traders came to me to tell that the last date was December 31 but since the forms were very complicated they were unable to meet the deadline. Hence the date has been extended and the department has been directed to simplify the form,” Kejriwal said. On January 27, the CM held a comprehensive review of VAT and discussed with officials ways to simplify the process and the very system of taxation. These complexities and multiple clearances are said to enable the manipulation of norms and corruption.



It was presumed that on becoming chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal would let go of his activist past and move on to a political life. However, the CM shocked not just Delhi but people around the world when he decided to sit on dharna with all his ministers outside the high-security Rail Bhavan to demand action against five police personnel, and Delhi government’s control over the city’s police. Described variously as an anarchist and a reactionary, Kejriwal held the city to ransom with his protest and has given people the power to carry out sting operations against government officials. His critics say that there are procedures within a democratic system which he as CM can use, and it is highly embarrassing for a CM to sit in protest in his own city. A debate is on.

Internal strife 

Days into governance, the Aam Aadmi Party had to deal with its first dissident. Vinod Kumar Binny, MLA from Laxmi Nagar and a former Congress corporator, not only sulked on two occasions on being denied what he wanted but also publicly called Kejriwal a liar. Binny attempted to wash AAP’s dirty linen in public, accusing Kejriwal of running a one-man show, ignoring workers, carrying on a farce of democracy by deciding in advance candidates for the assembly elections and lying to the electorate. Kejriwal said Binny first wanted a ministerial post and then a Lok Sabha ticket, and sulked when he was denied both. Binny has now managed to gather many disgruntled volunteers and is actively campaigning against the chief minister.


Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, already under massive criticism for the form of protest adopted by the elected head of the city, took a turn for the worse when scores of its supporters broke down barricades at Rafi Marg to join the CM on his dharna outside Rail Bhavan. In the lathicharge that followed, about 30 persons were injured, and AAP promptly blamed home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for the violence. Some people also had to be hospitalized. At another barricade, some protesters threw stones and rocks at the police force, injuring at least two. On the other hand, police had strict instructions to not use force on the protesters and they stood ignoring barbs and slogans directed at them. This was a first for AAP.

Tension with police 

Arvind Kejriwal’s first month in office has been marked by attacks on Delhi Police and the Centre, which looks after law and order in the capital. The CM and his cabinet squatted outside Rail Bhavan when prevented from marching up to the home ministry demanding the suspension of three SHOs. The home ministry’s stand that an inquiry will decide the fate of cops accused of inaction during a midnight raid in Khirki Village, a bride burning case and the gang rape of a Danish woman enraged Kejriwal. An embarrassing faceoff between the CM and the Centre followed. Rain spoiled Kejriwal’s plan to protest till his demands were met. He accepted a face-saver from the Centre which sent two cops on leave. He, however, embarrassed police by talking about corruption in the force during his R-Day speech.

Attack on media 

The media has been under the direct attack of the AAP government. Its ministers have suddenly become mediashy and the chief minister himself has alleged that the negative coverage of his party is because of a nexus between rival parties and media houses. He said this even in his official Republic Day speech, slipping in a kind word or two as a concession to journalists. After his dharna at Rail Bhavan, Kejriwal had given vent to similar feelings about media coverage. His law minister, Somnath Bharti, sharpened the attack on the media by asking a reporter how much BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had paid her to unrelentingly seek an answer to a question.


Right from the time the new government took oath, it has banked on symbolism to prop its image as different from the rest. TOI takes a look at these sidelights of AAP’s politics

Mufflers and topis 

An AAP cap on the head and a muffler tightly wrapped around his neck, covering his ears: that’s the popular image of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The cap created quite a stir when he attended the fi rst session of Delhi assembly wearing it. While some in the opposition mocked him, BJP actually accused him of breaking the assembly code of conduct. Kejriwal, however, stuck to his ground and the issue dissipated, but it built his popular image. The muffler, in particular, became a talking point after the CM started wearing it wherever he went—the secretariat, a TV studio or the dharna. When he attended President Pranab Mukherjee’s Republic Day party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday, he got a muffl er as gift. Now, Kejriwal’s cabinet colleague Somnath Bharti has started wearing a muffl er too, but it is yet to prove lucky for him

Ramlila Maidan 

This venue had become synonymous with agitation, but AAP now wants it to symbolize the party and its different style of governance. The cabinet took oath there, and the CM now wants the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed at a special session of the assembly inside it. Kejriwal has drawn critics’ ire for this, as they feel the assembly is a goodenough and constitutional venue for passing laws

Friendly neighbourhood ministers 

Most AAP MLAs and mini
sters have tried to project themselves as accessible to the common man and tried hard to sell the idea that they are one of them. They have done so by not taking the VIP way and using public conveyance like buses, autos and the Metro to go to work. Of course, this has had a flip side to it: when all MLAs went for the swearing-in ceremony, all Metro stations where they got in and out were clogged due to security restrictions, and commuters were greatly inconvenienced. The CM himself has been staying in his Kaushambi society flat, where people have started complaining of being under nonstop media and police glare. But the CM and his cabinet colleagues maintain that they frequently interact with people on the streets (most of which is in full media glare) and know what they want, even though rivals say they indulge in publicity stunts

WagonR that is CM’S AAPmobile 

Kejriwal’s personal car, a blue WagonR, has hogged the limelight as much as its owner. When the CM sat on dharna outside Rail Bhavan, his car was with him. He slept on the road next to the car; and when it rained on Day 2, he and his cabinet hopped into the car to take cover. Media watchers have called it the ‘AAPmobile’ after Batman’s car, but some market-watchers think this is a good publicity boost for this Maruti Suzuki brand that might go off production in a few years

Aam aadmi cuts ribbon 

When the CM was invited to inaugurate a revamped hospital run by the NDMC, he turned down the offer and suggested that a rickshawpuller be allowed to do the honours. Kejriwal saw it through and a 60-year-old rickshawpuller, Vijay Baba, inaugurated the hospital on Saturday with the CM by his side. Many wondered if such a gimmick was necessary, but AAP maintains the aam aadmi needs to know that it’s he who calls the shots now.

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