The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 14 , 2014
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Halt! Durbar to go to janata

Kejriwal (PTI)

New Delhi, Jan. 13: The capital may not see rooftop performances by its chief minister any more.

Arvind Kejriwal has called off his Saturday morning roadside durbar for good. But that doesn’t mean the Aam Aadmi Party boss will end his street connect with the aam aadmi.

From now on, instead of the janata coming over to meet their leader outside his office, their leader will go out to meet them every Saturday.

“Why should they have to come to the secretariat to get redress for their grievances?” the civil servant-turned-politician said, adding that he would visit different areas of the capital to hear people out.

Rooftops don’t exactly lend themselves to satisfactory interactions, especially when the crowd is on the street below.

It was on the street outside the secretariat that Kejriwal had met people on January 11 for his first, and only, Saturday janata durbar where he had promised “on-the-spot” solutions to at least some grievances.

But as the turnout swelled — over 7,000 by the official count — the Delhi chief minister had to wrap up his maiden durbar within an hour for fear of being trampled. A little over an hour later, he appeared on the rooftop of the secretariat to placate the crowd.

Kejriwal today said he had been left with no option. Asked to comment on former colleague Kiran Bedi’s plea “not to govern from rooftops”, he said: “I was getting calls from police asking for permission to lathi-charge the crowd to disperse them. But I believe democracy is run by dialogue not by lathi. When I came out and spoke to people, they were satisfied and left peacefully.”

The AAP leader said his team was working on a multi-tier system to address public grievances. To begin with, people can register complaints online, a system his predecessor Sheila Dikshit had in place.

For citizens who don’t have access to computers, the AAP government will hire a call centre. “They can call in and dictate their complaints. The call centre employee will write it down and read it back to the complainant. This will then be forwarded to concerned departments,” he said. Complaints can be posted too.

For those who land up at the secretariat, there will be a help desk to collect complaints.

Departments like motor licensing, which deal directly with the public, will be connected to the chief minister’s office through video link. “I can interact with the complainant directly through the facility at these centres,” Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal agreed that much of what he was talking about was already in place, but said the system had become “more procedural” than anything else. “It never gave people relief.”

He said there would be a provision in the AAP’s Jan Lokpal Bill to make bureaucrats accountable for timely delivery of services. A government committee is working on the draft of the bill and Kejriwal has promised it will be ready by Wednesday. “Repeated violation of a stipulated timeline to deliver a service could be deemed as an act of corruption,” he said.