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Kejriwal picks his team; dissent surfaces

NEW DELHI,Dec 24, 2013 , DHNS 2:39 IST
Arvind Kejriwal. PTI Photo
The countdown seems to have begun for Arvind Kejriwal to take oath as chief minister, along with his six cabinet ministers, at the Ramlila Maidan in central Delhi as the security and civic agencies prepared a blueprint for a mammoth ceremony expected on Thursday.

Kejriwal’s team will include his confidante and former TV journalist Manish Sisodia, lawyer Somnath Bharti, former TV journalist Rakhi Birla, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Girish Soni and Satyendra Kumar Jain.

As the names of Kejriwal’s cabinet members came out, there were reports of cabinet hopeful and Laxmi Nagar legislator V K Binny being upset at not being considered for a berth. A fire-fighting exercise was launched by AAP leaders as TV channel’s started flashing news highlighting differences in the debutant party over the cabinet composition.

Binny, an independent municipal councillor who defeated Delhi minister A K Walia, refused to speak to reporters but indicated that he may call a press conference on Wednesday.
Party spokesman and Patparganj legislator Sisodia sought to deny reports of a rift within the party over cabinet berths and said the “party has in mind a suitable role for
Binni”.

Sources said Binni could either be offered the post of Assembly speaker or be fielded in the Lok Sabha elections in May 2014.

Till late Tuesday evening, Raj Niwas had not received any direction from the President’s office on the date for the oath-taking ceremony of Kejriwal and his team. Sources said there was a strong possibility of it being held on Thursday.

During the day, Kejriwal was busy conducting workshops for the newly elected party MLAs and meeting bureaucrats at his house in Koshambi in Ghaziabad for chalking out the way ahead for the new government.

“A rejig in the Delhi bureaucracy is on the cards,” said an AAP leader, indicating that education department appeared to be on top of the agenda of the chief minister-designate.

Hectic activity could be seen at the oath taking ceremony venue Ramlila Ground, where Kejriwal had participated in a campaign launched by Gandhian Anna Hazare in 2011 to seek a stronger Janlokpal Bill.

Police and civic officials came to the ground to assess the requirements for the oath taking ceremony.

The ground has a capacity of about 50,000 people but the police are expecting a turnover of over a lakh.

Police officials said the security wing of police will take over the area of the stage where Kejriwal will take the oath.

Officials said they were concerned about Kejriwal’s tendency to mingle with the crowds.

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