The stage was set. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his six Cabinet ministers seated themselves behind their desks outside the Secretariat to start their first Janta Durbar. Thousands had gathered by then, some as early as 6 am, seeking redressal of their complaints.
But not all came with a grievance. Many women and children had come just to get a glimpse of Kejriwal and to give him gifts if possible.
Sarita Rai from Sultanpuri had no grievance for the chief minister, rather she had a small gift for him. “I can’t tell you what is inside. It’s a special gift, which I want to give him personally,’’ she said.
But she like many others had to return disappointed as Kejriwal left the durbar in a hurry after people mobbed him. By 9 am, the Cabinet ministers had taken their seats behind desks, set up next to each other outside the Secretariat. Key officials from each department sat next to their respective ministers.
By 9.30 am, the queue was meandering till ITO bridge, forcing traffic police to stop vehicles coming from East Delhi.
The only Cabinet minister missing was Health Minister Satyendra Jain, who could not be present due to demise of his mother on Saturday morning.
Those who had come with health issues were addressed by a officer on special duty and the personal secretary to the minister, whom many confused for the minister.
In the first 15 minutes, only four people were allowed to enter the area where the ministers and the CM were seated.
But with the crowd swelling every minute, people started pushing against the fencing along the central verge. When the crowd became unmanageable, Kejriwal thanked the people for coming and said they should allow people with grievances to come forward. This did little to contain the crowd, with some even trying to climb on top of Kejriwal’s desk.
By 10.30 am, Kejriwal was forced to retreat into the Secretariat, followed by Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia.
Those who could not get an audience with the ministers were asked submit their applications to the officials.
Meanwhile, other Cabinet ministers continued listening to people and collecting copies of complaints.
Amidst the chaos, some groups started shouting slogans and were pacified only when Kejriwal made two appearances, one on top of the Secretariat boundary and then on top of the secretariat building. He requested people to leave, apologising for the lack of proper arrangements.