Millennium Post

AAP’s first chaotic ‘darbar’

The surging crowd in the first much talked Janata Darbar at the seat of power of the city government was not at all unexpected.  In fact, it was imminent keeping in view the wide media coverage across the nation and abroad,  being earned by the new government of Delhi and its leaders, who have been deeply involved in kindling the hopes in the hearts and minds of the common men. As an old analyst keeping a close eye on the political developments in the capital city and being associated with the city government for the last so many years, I was expecting an unprecedented huge crowd in the first very public hearing exercise. The kind of crowd had been gathering daily at the Vaishali residence of the new Chief Minister and the similar glut of persons knocking at the reception of the Delhi Secretariat, made me to believe the likely attendance of the thousands at the Secretariat on the day of Delhi Janata Darbar.

As the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders were continuously engaged in scaling up the expectations of Delhiites, it was almost sure that the attendance would be crossing all expectations.

It is quite strange that the party think tanks could not understand the general mood of the people in this regard. The huge attendance led to a stampede, chaos and abrupt at end of the first Janata Darbar. The reason being stated is lack of proper arrangements. Whatever it may be, one has to appreciate the idea of holding weekly and daily Janata Darbars around Delhi Secretariat in the presence of ministers and bureaucrats who matter in giving real shape to the schemes and plans of an elected government.  This sort of exercise is of paramount importance as it provides an excellent opportunity to be closely connected with the electorates, even during non-election period apart from receiving the well judged feedback from the common men.

The city government, while assuring people of holding such Darbars at bigger places, has openly accepted its slight error in estimating the expected crowd in the Janata Darbar. The chief minister is being suggested to hold such hearings ministry- wise, district-wise, sector-wise and priority-wise, in order to ensure manageable crowds. The chief minister has also announced holding of Darbar in the next couple of days. It would be wise to hold Darbar in the month of February only after making all foolproof arrangements. Hence, leaving no scope of any fiasco and chaos. The recurrence of similar Darbar would not only highlight the incompetence of the present government but would defeat the very purpose of commissioning a perfect mechanism of result oriented public hearing. The government would not afford to witness one more failure, affecting the image of the party convenor and Chief Minister Kejriwal.

It would be in the fitness of things if the present government goes through the modus operandi of organising around 150 Bhagidari workshops and the Bhagidari Utsavs organised by the predecessor government in Delhi. The events in question used to efficiently handle thousands of people every time without any glitch, difficulty, obstruction, harassment and failure. The events during the last government went a long way in establishing a constant contact with the people. It had become usual practice to involve different departments, delegate the items of works and monitoring them at various levels. The events were being organised at stadiums and wide halls and convention centres after a series of meetings chaired by the high-ups.

The city government, in 1998 and 2013, took a major decision of involving the people at colony and RWAs in the decision-making process, at local level.  This also helped the government politically as it resulted in shifting the traditional middle class urban vote bank from the saffron party to the other side. The plan of establishing mohalla sabhas of the present government is worth appreciable and practicable too, though it needs to be given an institutional set up to ensure its smooth take off. This is also in tune with the principle of empowering people at grass root level.

The Janata Darbars in one form or the other have been in existence right from the days of the present administrative set up in Delhi. The then Chief Minister M L Khurana coined a slogan, ‘Dilli Sarkar, Aap ke Dwar’, but could not materialise it as he was forced to demit office after eclipsed in Hawala. His successor, Sahib Singh amassed courage to take out his government close to the doorsteps of the people.  A fair number of such camps were organised across the capital city. The chief minister used to spend hours together in the camps housing the stalls of public dealing departments in the presence of the senior officers concerned. The camps became a focal point of public hearing by the chief minister in the presence of a huge crowd. The mega health camps organised in different districts by the last government attracted huge crowds. One expects similar well planned events from the present government as well.

The author is a communication consultant
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