Delhi’s new Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal swung into action within hours after taking oath, announcing a public helpline to report bribe takers.
After the first cabinet meeting lasting nearly an hour he also banned red beacon lights on vehicles of ministers and officials.
The 45-year-old Aam Aadmi Party leader wasted no time on his first day in the secretariat, discussing power tariff, CNG pricing, transport and water supply with officers, to whom he assured no “witch hunting” in a pep talk he gave earlier.
The new cabinet that met for the first time at 2 pm on the third floor of the Secretariat office, where the chief minister’s office is also located, decided that ministers will not have escort vehicles but may be allowed Delhi police security depending on the threat assessment by security agencies. While banning use of red beacons on vehicles used by ministers and officials, the cabinet clarified that the beacons will only be allowed for essential services.
After taking oath at the Ramlila Maidan at noon, Kejriwal and his six ministers reached the Secretariat on cars that did not sport red beacons.
During the cabinet meeting, the chief minister and his team also decided to have an Assembly session from January 1 to 7. The vote of confidence would be held in the Assembly on January 2 and the speaker would be elected the next day.
On his first day in office, the new chief minister worked till late in the evening and met Police Commissioner B S Bassi, who made a courtesy call.
Late in the evening, Kejriwal shuffled bureaucrats heading some key departments. Delhi’s Finance Secretary, Power Secretary and CEO of Delhi Jal Board were among those transferred.
Sources said Kejriwal planned to spend the night at his party office at Hanuman Road as his official house in New Delhi area is yet to be identified. Kejriwal’s Education Minister Manish Sisodia was also quick off the blocks.
as he announced that school fees would be regulated, guidelines for nursery admissions would be revised and donations for admissions in schools will be banned.
Sisodia announced that school fees would be regulated, guidelines for nursery admissions would be revised and donations for admissions in schools will be banned.
He also asked officials to remove “VIP” boards from above the elevators in the secretariat and asked for a small chair for himself, instead of the extra cushioned one used by his predecessor.
Law and Tourism minister Somnath Bharti, Social Welfare Minister Rakhi Birla, Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, Development Minister Girish Soni and Health Minister Satender Jain also interacted with officials in their respective departments in the secretariat. Late in the evening, Jain visited the Lok Nayak Hospital at Delhi Gate to check facilities for patients.
Birla said: “I have not assumed office but am trying to familiarise myself with the officials.”Elaborating on her plans in the coming days, she said: “We would hire ex-servicemen and create a commando force for women’s security.”
An elderly member of her staff praised her saying she told me not to wish her with folded hands and not to address her as “madam”. He said she told me that they all would address each other with respect and using “ji” after each other’s names.
Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said he has sought feedback from officials of the transport department on DTC and autorickshaw.
On the controversial Bus Rapid Transit corridor in south Delhi, he said: “We would study the Delhi High Court order on the corridor and take steps to modify the facility.”
Law Minister Somnath Bharti said he would address the shortage of public prosecutors. While Kejriwal earlier announced in a media interaction that he would be holding a second cabinet meeting around 5.30 pm, it was cancelled later.
Officials in various departments awaited official announcement on location of each minister’s office in the nine-storey building.
A general administration department official said nameplates of ministers would be installed in the coming days after receiving instructions from the CMO.
“The chief minister’s office will remain on the third floor. For the others, we do not have any instruction,” he said.