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UTTER CHAOS AT DELHI DURBAR

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Kejriwal leaves venue to avoid possible stampede, but promises that the next public hearing will be at a bigger venue with better arrangements.

New Delhi :  The first “Janata Darbar” of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet ended in chaos on Saturday after thousands thronged the venue, forcing the AAP leader to leave the scene to avoid a possible stampede.

The 45-year-old Kejriwal later promised a better show and soon. He said it could be held in a stadium.


An estimated 5,000 people poured into the open space outside the Delhi Secretariat since early morning, eager to pour out their woes to Kejriwal and his ministers who took oath on Dec 28.  But the crowds were so overwhelming that Kejriwal, an activist-turned-politician, retreated to his room in about 45 minutes at the suggestion of Delhi Police. “Next time, we will be more prepared and may hold the ‘Janata Darbar’ at a stadium,” he said, and apologised to the people for not addressing all their problems.  The chief minister also apologized for the poor arrangements. According to him, such was the rush that some over-enthusiastic complainants climbed on his desk and the chairs around him.

Some people broke the barricades. “If I had not left the place, there was a possibility of a stampede. Everybody wanted to meet me,” he said, admitting he didn’t anticipate such crowds.  “We will streamline the system… We will improve the system,” he told reporters.

Asked if he was in a seeming hurry to show results, Kejriwal replied: “We are in a hurry to save the country. If we don’t do that, the country will not change.”

Kejriwal had announced a regular “Janata Darbar” – with his presence on Saturdays – so that people feel closer to the administration.

Even after Kejriwal went back to his chamber, three of his six ministers – Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla and Saurabh Bhardwaj – continued to listen to people’s grievances and accept representations.

While admitting the poor arrangements, Law Minister Bharti said the “Janata Darbar” should not be discontinued. He said they had not expected such a huge crowd.  “Most complaints were against the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) and Delhi Police. If these departments start working efficiently, we won’t need these durbars,” Bharti told IANS.

Sonu Sharma, 34, said he came to the “Janata Darbar” to complain against a power distribution company which he told IANS had fined him Rs 2.96 lakh for alleged power theft.  Pooja Singh, another resident, felt the next “Janata Darbar” should be held at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan where Kejriwal and his ministers took oath.

Those gathered at the venue included a large number of government employees – including teachers and Delhi Transport Corp staff – who are on contract and want assured employment.

Kejriwal promised to get in touch with the concerned government departments. “We will try to sort out this problem within a month.”  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former police officer Kiran Bedi slammed Kejriwal.  “For God’s sake, Arvind and Team, Secretariats are not run from rooftops! Please take time to listen/absorb! And then take considered decisions!” Bedi wrote on Twitter.  Bedi and Kejriwal were part of the anti-corruption campaign of activist Anna Hazare in 2011. But they have fallen out since then.

BJP’s Delhi unit president Vijay Goel said the “Janata Darbar” was called on Saturday with an eye on the next election, not for people’s welfare.

Journalist joins AAP

New Delhi: Television journalist Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday. Ashutosh had resigned as the Managing Editor of IBN7 on Thursday fuelling speculation that he would join the party. Answering a volley of questions on whether he was “opportunistic” as he was joining the party ahead of Lok Sabha election, he said, “If history has given us an opportunity, then we should take that opportunity and why should we not take this opportunity.” Responding to a question on whether he would contest elections, he said, “I have just joined the party and it is up to the party to decide. I will do what the party says and spread the message of the party.” He added that he had not joined the party just for contesting election.

Milkha’s kin also join ranks

Chandigarh: Legendary athlete Milkha Singh’s wife Nirmal Kaur and their US-based daughter have joined the Aam Aadmi Party, but the ‘Flying Sikh’ himself wants to stay away from politics. Nirmal Kaur, also a ertswhile sportsperson, and her daughter Mona Singh have filled the membership form of Arvind Kejriwal’s party and Milka Singh says he respects their decision. “Yes, they joined the AAP. They filled the form. Both have said that they were impressed with the aims and objectives of the party and with (Delhi Chief Minister) Arvind Kejriwal’s work,” Milkha said.

Mobiles, wallets stolen

New Delhi: Six complaints of mobile theft and pockets being picked were received by police on Saturday from people who went to meet Kejriwal at his ‘Janata Darbar’ outside the Secretariat, officials said. “A total of six complaints were received by 2 p.m. including from two journalists and a policemen.