New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) The first “Janata Darbar” of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers Saturday had a chaotic start after thousands thronged the venue, forcing the AAP leader to leave the scene to avoid a possible stampede.
The 45-year-old chief minister later promised a better show — and soon.
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.
But the crowds were so overwhelming that Kejriwal had to retreat to his room in about 45 minutes at the suggestion of Delhi Police.
The chief minister apologized for the poor arrangements, and said later that such was the rush that some over-enthusiastic complainants climbed on his desk and the chairs around him.
Some people broke the barricades meant to keep the crowds in check.
“If I had not left the place, there was a possibility of a stampede. Everybody wanted to meet me,” he said, admitting that he didn’t anticipate such crowds.
“We will streamline the system so that a similar situation does not recur.
We will improve the system. I will sit with officers and make necessary arrangements,” he told reporters.
Later, addressing the crowds from the roof of a single-storey building, Kejriwal said: “We will have another ‘Janata Darbar’ in four or five days. It will be better organised and better managed.”
He also urged the gathering to return to their homes.
Kejriwal, who heads a minority Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, had announced a regular “Janata Darbar” – with his assured presence on Saturdays – so that people feel closer to the administration.
His entire cabinet was present at the meet.
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.
“I wanted to meet Kejriwal but he was taken inside by police. There is no system in place. Such chaos can lead to a stampede,” complained 34-year-old Sonu Sharma.
A resident of Seelampur area, Sharma had come to register a complaint against a power distribution company which he told IANS had accused him of power theft and fined him Rs 2.96 lakh.
Pooja Singh, who too wanted to meet Kejriwal, suggested that the next “Janata Darbar” be held at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan where Kejriwal and his ministers took oath Dec 28.
Many came as early as 6 a.m. to get a vantage point so that they could talk to the chief minister.
Those gathered at the “Janata Darbar” included a large number of government employees — including teachers and Delhi Transport Corp staff — who are on contract and were looking for assured employment.
Kejriwal told the gathering that he would get in touch with the concerned government departments and get a report from all of them.
“We will try to sort out this problem within a month,” he said.
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 Saturday with an eye on the next election, not for people’s welfare.