New Delhi; Arvind Kejriwal’s experiment with direct democracy failed within 15 minutes as thousands crowded his first janta darbar, everyone pushing and shoving to be heard first and get a solution to their problem, breaking down police barricades to reach the chief minister’s desk.
The CM had to be rescued by policemen as the chaos was turning into frenzy on the cold Saturday morning that Delhi’s ministers chose to sit on the road outside the Secretariat to listen to public complaints.
He ended up on the roof of the secretariat to try and pacify the teeming crowd with a loudspeaker and an apology.
Security: The chief minister had to apologise for the mismanagement, assuring the crowd that the next janta darbar will be better planned
More than 10,000 people turned up outside the Secretariat building, some with high expectations and some who had just come visiting to see what the fuss was all about.
But the complete lack of any crowd management coupled with inexperience in handling such numbers turned the AAP-led Delhi government’s first public grievance forum into a mad rush and crush.
It also exposed the high expectations that AAP has set both for itself and the citizens with its rhetoric and recalled Kejriwal’s own words that he didn’t have a “magic wand” after making several promises when he took over government.
Even the CM was caught unaware when he found himself besieged with the crowd.
“We were not expecting such a huge crowd. We had made arrangement for just 700-1,000 people, but more than 7,000 people came. We want to go to the public to listen to their problems. Our government wants to work for the people. When we sat on the road today, we came to know how many people want to meet us,” Kejriwal said realising the mistake of mismanagement.
“If I had not left the place then there was a possibility of a stampede. Everybody wanted to meet me.”
The experiment of a public hearing on the road received flak from all quarters.
Kiran Bedi, once Kejriwal’s colleague in the fight for the Lokpal, took a swipe at him over the lack of mature governance and said such meetings do not happen on the streets or the rooftops.
“There is a schedule and method and certainly openness about it. It is also about experienced governance, that is what I think is lacking,” she said.
Bedi has now drifted out of Team Anna and is supporting Narendra Modi. Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel termed it a gimmick.
“Political gimmickry should not overtake governance but Kejriwal and his team are desperate to take short-cuts to popularity in view of Lok Sabha polls. If AAP was really serious about public hearing it would have held it in every department, at assembly level and within the secretariat also.”
Many of the petitioners returned without being able to meet any minister as they could not go past the sea of the people that had turned up at the Secretariat, though other ministers stayed on after Kejriwal had left.
Mad rush: More than 10,000 people turned up outside the Secretariat building to register their problems to the chief minister
“I am 85 years old and I can’t walk with so many people jostling me around. I am returning without being able to meet the CM.
“There should be a separate row for senior citizens and ladies. I reached here at 9am today to complain about a disputed property. After seeing today’s situation I don’t think I will come again,” said Narendra Sain Chabra.
There were many physically challenged people who demanded a separate entry as they could not manage to get inside.
Finding himself in tough position to pacify the crowd, the chief minister had to apologise for the mismanagement, assuring the crowd that the next janta darbar will be better-planned so that people will not face any inconvenience.
“Please give us some time to improve and manage the system. Go home now. All your grievances will be attended to. We will make better arrangements next time. We will hold another janta darbar in next five-six days,” said Kejriwal after making a second entry at the rooftop of the secretariat.
The party later clarified that the janta darbar was not suspended half-way through but was ended as scheduled at 11.30 am.
A major chunk of the crowd was formed by government employees including DTC and other departments like schools.
“We have been teaching in government schools for the last 19 years on contract. We want permanent jobs,” said Usha Kaul, a member of Kashmiri Migrant Government Teachers Association.
There were many who had come from other states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to meet the Delhi CM, though he has no jurisdiction in those states.
Free run for pick pockets at janta darbar
Anti-social elements had a field day at Arvind Kejriwal’s janta darbar held outside the Delhi Secretariat on Saturday.
Around 20 people walked inside the Indraprastha Estate police station and registered complaints and FIRs about burglary of mobile phones and wallets during the janta darbar. About eight mobile phones were stolen.
“Whoever has come to file an FIR, we have registered it,” said a senior police officer.
Suresh Ahuja, a resident of Bindapur, was disappointed after he could meet the chief minister. But he was more upset when he found that his phone was stolen.
“I had come here to meet (Arvind) Kejriwal but was unable to do so but my phone was stolen. It was very disappointing,” he said.
Similarly, a media person who came to cover the event found his mobile was stolen. Rahul Vaishnavi said: “I came here to cover the event and there was a huge crowd. After an hour I realised that my phone is stolen.”
A senior police officer said the burglars and pickpockets took advantage of the huge turnout.
“It is tough to identify the pickpockets amid a crowd of 10,000 people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police maintained that better planning by administration was as much needed as stepping up of security.
There were around 500 police personnel other than around 400-500 personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal.
Vishwas ‘welcomed’ with eggs in Lucknow
By Rajat Rai
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas has got a dose of goondagiri in Samajwadi Party (SP)-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
Vishwas, who is tipped to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections against Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, had to face the wrath of an SP worker in Lucknow on Saturday.
SP youth brigade activist Sayed Jafree created a ruckus in the AAP leader’s news conference by reportedly hurling eggs at him.
“We will not allow Vishwas to contest the elections from Amethi. He is out of his senses,” Jafree told media after he was arrested by the Alambagh police after the incident.
The press conference was held in a hotel in the Alambagh locality of the state capital.
“I’m getting warnings for planning to contest against Rahul. I will hold a rally soon in Amethi and contest the elections,” Vishwas said, adding that “when the country was in pain, Rahul was in Spain. I’m not afraid of any kind of threat and committed to serve the nation. I have come to know that Rahul has changed his mind and planning to contest the next elections from Rae Bareli.
“I request the media to take his statement on the plan change”.
Asked about the incident, SP leader Ashok Dev said: “We are probing the credentials of Jafree. We will take a strict action against him if he is found guilty.”
Meanwhile, AAP district convener Hanuman Singh along with 20 other workers met District Magistrate Jagatraj Tewari, seeking deployment of additional security personnel at Ramlila Ground, venue of the party’s Jan Vishwas Rally.
The move came after hoardings against AAP leaders sprouted at several places across Amethi on Saturday, a day before the rally.
BJP does an AAP in Madhya Pradesh
Apparently taking a cue from AAP administration in Delhi, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has set up a helpline to lodge complaints about bribe demands and pending works in offices.
Aggrieved citizens can dial 9009133322 for lodging complaints about bribe demands by government servants and delay in getting their work done, official sources said in Bhopal on Saturday.
The helpline has been set up on directive of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, they said.
CM Omar praises AAP
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday acknowledged the effect of Aam Aadmi Party on national politics and prayed for change within his party.
While he claimed that the National Conference had a similar ideology on corruption, he said AAP’s ideology has not been rejected by the people, and could impact the state.
“The fact is, whether we like or dislike it, a new political atmosphere, a new political wave has started in the country, the name of which is Aam Aadmi Party,” Omar said.
“People want that corruption and bribe-taking should be stamped out. People want that politicians and bureaucrats (should) not fleece the common people. Ours is the same ideology,” he claimed.