As rain exacerbated the bitter December chill in Delhi on Monday night, new Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia stepped out to make a surprise check on night shelters in the city and rounded up the tour with some hot paranthas.
He gave the shelters a thumbs up. “I didn’t see any problems here, I talked to people and everything is fine,” said Mr Sisodia, who began his visit a little after midnight.
Yesterday was the coldest day in 18 years in Delhi, with the mercury touching a bone-numbing 2.4 degrees centigrade at one point.
Delhi has 150 night shelters for the homeless, who crowd these especially during the winter.
“I wanted a first-hand account of the condition of those staying here. People want water which they are not getting. We are here to help them and make sure they get it,” Mr Sisodia said, also observing that some people at the shelters had complained about being harassed by policemen.
“I will talk to the Police Commissioner tomorrow,” said Mr Sisodia, who had with him other Aam Aadmi Party leaders like Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh.
After the inspection, the leaders were spotted eating paranthas at Shivaji stadium.
“We came from the roadside so nothing wrong in eating roadside food,” explained Mr Sisodia cheerfully.
Mr Vishwas, who has said he will contest against the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the general elections, said stopping for street food was natural. “The minister and our other party workers felt hungry, so we are eating here,” he said.
The Aam Aadmi (common man) quotient of Arvind Kejriwal’s team of Delhi ministers was on display through the day. In the morning, Rakhi Birla, the 26-year-old women’s welfare minster had arrived at work in an auto-rickshaw.