Chaos mars Kejriwal's janata durbar

Govt blames unexpected footfall for pandemonium

Chaos mars Kejriwal's janata durbar

Reality struck Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hard at his maiden janata darbar here on Saturday, which was marked by chaos and mismanagement and lasted barely 30-40 minutes.

Lured by the promise of a solve-all darbar by the government, thousands of people thronged the Delhi secretariat with their problems. In a bid to reach out to the unprecedented crowd, Kejriwal went to the secretariat’s rooftop to address the gathering.

When Kejriwal, his cabinet colleagues and officers commenced the first public grievance redressal meet held at the gates of the secretariat, they managed to deal with the milling crowds for barely 30-40 minutes. The arrangements were meant for a gathering of about 700 people but the turnout was nearly 7,000 strong. The barricades came crashing down as hundreds of people jumped over them to steal a glimpse of their new leader. Hundreds of women, children and elderly caught in the crowd had to be rescued by security personnel.

Several petitioners were visibly devastated when their applications were lost in the melee.

 Many people scrambled on top of the tables and chairs to get up close to Kejriwal and his ministers-officers. Sensing more trouble, Kejriwal’s securitymen whisked him inside the building. His cabinet ministers and secretaries too quickly left as the crowd almost surrounded them.Kejriwal, however, claimed he beat a retreat sensing a possible stampede.

“I agree that there was mismanagement from our side. The crowd was unmanageable. Had I not left the place, there could have been a stampede. Most of the people were trying to meet me. I request the people to maintain queues so that no one gets hurt,” he said.

The chaos drew flak from the Opposition BJP and Kejriwal’s former colleague Kiran Bedi. While BJP accused the Aam Aadmi Party government of fooling people, Bedi suggested that Kejriwal should think before acting. The petitions and applications of people which were strewn on the roads, were later collected by the chief minister’s office.

 “We will consider changing the venue. People should not be disappointed by this incident. We will surely make better arrangements for the janata darbar soon. We have to suspend the darbar till Tuesday, by which time we are hopeful of devising a new plan,” he said.

Kejriwal broadly categorised the thousands of people who went to his doorstep into three: contract employees from government departments, people facing water crisis and hefty electricity bills.

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