Aam aadmi makes a beeline to see its ministers in action

Assembly line

Aam aadmi makes a beeline to see its ministers in action

The humble Delhi Vidhan Sabha has suddenly stolen the spotlight from the centre of all Indian politics – the grand old Parliament. People with even a faint interest in how lawmakers go about their job are not heading to New Delhi, but taking the Metro Yellow Line straight to Delhi Legislative Assembly near North Campus. Concerned citizens, homemakers and school and college students are all making a beeline to see first-hand their newly-elected Aam Aadmi Party MLAs at work.

Ram Avtar, 78, had never been to the UP Legislative Assembly in Lucknow, but came all the way from Kanpur, to see Arvind Kejriwal. “Hum Dilli ke naye CM ko dekhne aaye hain. He was a common man but made it to the highest post in the state. I want to see how he debates,” claimed the septuagenarian even as he wrestled the guards who asked him to deposit his mobile and bag. The queue that followed him was much longer than the one which just made it to the visitors’ gallery in time.

Mukta Rohatgi and Simple Arora, associate professors in Delhi University, who grabbed the first-row seats in the gallery, admitted, “No. We had never come here though it’s close to office, but of course, it’s a new government by a new party now. There is enthusiasm in people to observe how MLAs actually legislate. That’s why we are here.” Shalini Sharma, a homemaker from Rohini, on the other hand, claimed, “I have been following the proceedings on TV since Jan 1 and thought, I should attend the last day of the Session in person.”
There were suggestions from many for a Delhi Vidhan Sabha TV on the lines of Lok Sabha TV, as a Gurgaon-based businessman, Jatin Bhardawaj, said, “AAP has been making a lot of claims of clean governance and behaving like statesmen more than rowdy politicians. I am sure people would like to see how they conduct themselves in the House.” Retired government employee KL Gulati, who was also visiting the Assembly for the first time, meanwhile complained, “I was given a pass for 45 minutes only which passed in screaming and shouting between the MLAs. I couldn’t get to see anything meaningful.”

Officials who issue passes to the visitor’s gallery informed us, “Previously, we would get 70-80 visitors at the maximum, that too, on days of significance. Now, the average is 250 and going up to 300. The gallery doesn’t even have that much capacity so we have started issuing passes for 45 minutes only. This is so that everyone gets a glimpse at least.”

Another official said, “I guess those days are gone when only a handful of family members of ministers, their drivers, the Assembly staff and cronies would lounge in the visitors’ gallery. Of course, our work load has increased but it’s heartening to see more people take interest in their ministers’ work.”    

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