Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as well as his ministers and officers will slot an hour every day to interact with the ‘aam aadmi’, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced Wednesday. Sisodia said the time between 10 am and 11 am has been set aside for this purpose.
The AAP came to power in Delhi three years ago on the basis of its strong connect with the masses, particularly because of the image it had of being a common-man’s party. Increasingly, however, party officials admitted, this image was getting eroded, partly due to the aggressive campaign by the BJP portraying it as an “elite party”.
Sisodia said all ministers and officials will meet people in their offices — without appointment — in the morning. He said, “The Chief Minister has also ordered that from Monday to Friday, no officer will keep any meetings during this time span.”
He added that Kejriwal would also meet people on weekdays during this time period, but didn’t specify if these meetings would take place at the Secretariat or at the camp office.
In the order, Kejriwal wrote, “I have received several complaints from the public that officers are not easily accessible for redressal of their grievances.”
It added, “It is hereby directed that henceforth, all officers, other than those who have field duties, shall be present on their seats between 10 am and 11 am. A record shall also be maintained of whom an officer met, what was his grievance and what action was taken.”
Last week, sacked Delhi minister Kapil Mishra had alleged that Kejriwal had only been to his office twice in the past year and on social media described him as a CM with no portfolio who “works the least and takes the most holidays”. Responding to the allegations at a recent party meeting, Kejriwal had said, “I would have been in jail had there been an iota of truth in his allegations.”
Move to help connect with people: Leaders
The announcement to spend an hour every day interacting with the “common man” is reflective of the party’s realisation that its recent rout in the elections to the Municipal Corporations of Delhi is perhaps because it has lost its most vital political asset — the connect with the masses, party leaders said.
An AAP leader said, “We need to ensure that we don’t lose our connect with people in the capital. Ultimately, we are a party that has risen from a people’s movement in Delhi. While much of the controversy is created by the media and the BJP, there is some truth that people don’t feel as connected to us as before. That is something that we need to stop.”
The move, the government hopes, will also get them closer to the problems faced by residents in a direct manner. “People continue to have a vast array of problems. With this move, there is hope that the government will be able to see, over a period of time, what the most common problems faced by people are. It can take action accordingly.”