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Chaos marks 1st day of Kejriwal govt’s ‘janata durbar’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal collecting papers regarding people's grievances during his inaugural 'Janata Durbar' or public hearing at Delhi Secretariat , in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Kamal Narang

Delhi CM promises ‘better organised’ meetings soon 

The first day of the Arvind Kejriwal government’s ‘janata durbar’ (public hearing) on the streets across the Delhi Secretariat was a scene of utter chaos on Saturday, with uncontrollable crowds thronging the venue. The Chief Minister had to disappear on the advice of the Delhi Police, leaving his Cabinet colleagues to handle the swelling crowd.

Later Kejriwal emerged on the rooftop and addressed the jostling crowd, promising them another ‘janata durbar’ in four or five days. “It will be better organised and better managed,” he declared.

On Thursday, the new Aam Aadmi Party government had announced that the entire Cabinet would sit outside their offices at the Delhi Secretariat every Saturday and hear grievances from people.

As the crowd swelled on Saturday, a harried daily commuter said: “You can’t call a ‘durbar’ on the streets and listen to grievances of people of a state that has a population close to 1.5 crore.”

Those gathered included contractual workers from various government departments, such as DTC, power company BSES, hospitals, municipal corporations as well as students and teachers, hoping to get an audience with the Chief Minister. While several people could register their grievances with the other Cabinet Ministers, many others had to return disappointed.

The chaos invited a lot of flak, too. Former Team Anna member, Kiran Bedi, tweeted: “Governance demands solid maturity of governance and administration which institutionalises change Secretariat is meant for! Not streets always!”

However, there was the other view, too. “The milling crowds reflect the revival of trust in the government,’ said an AAP supporter, echoing the State Labour Minister Girish Soni’s views that the huge crowds were proof that “past governments were a failure”.

CPI(ML) leader, Dipankar Bhattacharya, tweeted: The chaotic situation in AK's Janata Darbar marks a veritable explosion of aspirations of d ppl of Delhi. It should be welcomed & honoured.”

The tradition of holding ‘janata durbars’ dates back to ancient courts in India, and was revived by yesteryear Prime Ministers, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who used to hold regular ‘durbars’ to listen to public grievances. However, Congress soon gave up the practice. Last year, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi spoke about reviving the tradition to hear out citizen grievances.

Several Chief Ministers, too, have tried to revive the tradition of holding such public meeting, such as former Bihar Chief Minister, Lalu Prasad, the present Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Uttar Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

>aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 11, 2014

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