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THE CAP-TOR

FIRST DAY

No beacons

The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has decided at its first cabinet meeting that no minister, legislator or bureaucrat will use red beacons. The cabinet has decided that even revenue officers like sub-divisional magistrates who have to respond to natural calamities, riots or law-and-order situations should shun the beacon. The cabinet departed from the practice of circulating a note and seeking the views of all departments concerned. Revenue secretary Dharampal later said he would put forth reasons why beacons are necessary for revenue officers

No personal security

The cabinet also decided that no minister, legislator or bureaucrat will use personal security officers (PSO). The Delhi chief secretary is the only bureaucrat to use a PSO now. Around 100 police personnel are expected to be freed for other duties if the decision is implemented

No witch-hunt

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal assured officials that there would be no “witch-hunting” but ended the day with a stern warning by transferring some officials. In a 20-minute address to the heads of departments, Kejriwal said the government would not scrutinise decisions taken by the previous government. “Let bygones be bygones,” he said. He clarified that no officers would be shunted out on the basis of their perceived “closeness” with the previous Congress government.

In the evening, officials in charge of power and water — two key AAP planks — were transferred. Power secretary R.K. Verma and Delhi Jal Board CEO Debashree Mukherjee were replaced. M.M. Kutty, the finance secretary and former principal secretary to then chief minister Sheila Dikshit, was sent to the social welfare department

Auto brothers

Kejriwal tried to address a tricky issue of auto fare rates on the first day itself. Auto drivers, who publicised AAP by carrying their posters, have threatened to go on strike after Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) hiked CNG prices by Rs 4.50 per kg. Kejriwal will have to either raise auto fares — an indigestible solution for a party that opposed hikes — or persuade the company, a public sector unit under the Delhi government, to roll back the price increase. Kejriwal’s meeting with IGL officials was inconclusive.

Coming Soon?
The direction in which the finger of a jovial Rahul Gandhi is pointing and the writing on a cap (once a Congress badge) worn by an Aam Aadmi supporter a few kilometres away on Saturday symbolise the biggest change that has swept Indian politics this year. As Rahul and his mother marked the 128th foundation day of the Congress at the AICC headquarters, Arvind Kejriwal and his infant party took centrestage at the Ramlila Maidan a few kilometres away. Rahul has been borrowing bristle after bristle from Kejriwal’s broom as the Congress struggles to forge a response to manifold challenges from multiple rivals. (Pictures by Prem Singh and PTI)

Sobhana K Nair