Winds of change sweep through Delhi Secretariat
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Delhi Secretariat, the national capital’s seat of power, has always remained out of bounds for the common man. However, thanks to the unconventional ways of the three-week-old AAP-led government, the imposing edifice has undergone a major transformation by opening its doors to all.
Be it the issues related to inadequate water supplies, inflated electricity bills or even giving advice to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on how to run the government efficiently, people from all walks of life are heading to the secretariat in the heart of Delhi to get their concerns addressed.Following the criticism of the chief minister for mismanaging the first Janata Darbar, or people’s court, on Jan 11 outside the secretariat, an octogenarian gentleman came calling a couple of days later to give advice to Kejriwal on how to manage such gatherings efficiently. As Kejriwal was busy in a cabinet meeting, his assistant and an Aam Aadmi Party volunteer patiently heard the elderly gent and promised to convey the message, much to the amazement of the secretariat staffers. Prior to the election of the new government, the 10-floor edifice, also called the Player’s Building for it was built to house athletes during the 1982 Asian Games, would mostly be swarmed by officials, ministers and members of the legislative assembly
However, post Dec 28 – the day Kejriwal took oath as Delhi chief minister with his six cabinet ministers – the secretariat has witnessed winds of change with numerous party workers donning the quintessential AAP caps along with hordes of Delhiites getting access to the imposing building. There’s even a joke doing the rounds that the secretariat is the AAP’s new office in Delhi.
The new government has also done away with the practice of keeping reserved elevators for the ministers and MLA’s. People taking the lift standing alongside a cabinet minister is a common sight now. Delhiites, who till now visited their local MLAs to get their problems resolved, are now seen waiting outside the concerned ministers offices to meet them personally. It is perhaps this confidence and belief that the party has successfully instilled in the minds of the common man that helped the AAP emerge as the runner-up in the Delhi polls, taking everybody by surprise. (It has formed the government with the Congress’ outside support.
When a group of six Delhi University employees decided to raise their delayed promotions with the chief minister, they never hesitated about meeting him personally. “We knew that we could meet him easily and we did. We presented our case to him and he promised to work out a solution. This is real democracy,” one of the employees, Sarita Singh, 38, told IANS.
After the meeting, the excited group got themselves photographed with the chief minister and immediately posted this on social networking site Facebook. “Could you imagine just walking up to the CM and getting a picture clicked with him? We couldn’t even dream of doing this earlier,” added her friend Neha Bhatia, 37.
According to AAP volunteers and officials, sometimes people come to meet Kejriwal not with any problem but to join the party and are politely asked to visit the party’s headquarters in Ghaziabad adjoining Delhi.
“The aura of Kejriwal is such that just because he sits here people think that they need to come down here for each and every issue,” quipped one of the volunteers.
The fact that Kejriwal is available for a longer period of time as he works more hours than his predecessor also lures the people.
According to officials, the chief minister arrives in his office at sharp 10 a.m. and does not leave before 6 or 7 p.m. on most of the days. He also works on most weekends.
“It gives people more time to meet him though he is busy all day taking meetings,” an official told IANS, not wanting to be named. IANS