Delhi: Promises made, AAP cabinet settles in to keep them

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his office. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

On Day 1 of the AAP government’s third term in office, the newly sworn-in Cabinet of six ministers is set to focus on implementing the ‘guarantee card’ released before the polls. The card listed promises such as deploying ‘mohalla marshals’ in residential areas, reducing pollution to a third, and making bus rides free for students.

The Indian Express looks at the key areas the six ministers will prioritise over the next five years. This time, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who took over the water ministry last term, has not kept any ministry for himself.

Manish Sisodia

Manish Sisodia

Manish Sisodia (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia, who continues to hold key portfolios including Finance and Education, presided over meetings with both departments soon after resuming office at the Delhi Secretariat Monday. During the meeting with the finance department, he stressed on the need to eradicate departmental corruption by income tax officers.

“It is important to take steps to wipe out departmental corruption. Setting up effective revenue targets should be our next course of action,” he said. At the meeting with officials from the education department, he asked them to expedite work on two new universities and repair the outer walls of all government schools.

Kailash Gahlot

Kailash Gahlot

Kailash Gahlot (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

After re-assuming charge as Transport Minister, Gahlot said the CM’s ‘guarantee card’ will be his priority. He said the government will work on further strengthening Delhi’s transport system. The AAP guarantee card had promised to increase the strength of the bus fleet to 11,000, expand the Metro network beyond 500 km and extend the free bus rides scheme for students as well.

Gahlot also appealed to the Centre to allow the Delhi government to make Metro rides free for women commuters, which has been stuck after the Delhi Metro indicated that there are hurdles in implementing the scheme. “We should be allowed to implement it; the expenses incurred would be reimbursed by the Delhi government to the DMRC,” he said.

Satyendar Jain

Satyendar Jain

Satyendar Jain (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Jain, who holds the health as well as the water portfolios, said, “Fulfilling the targets of the AAP’s manifesto will be my priority, along with the ‘guarantee card’. I will also work hard to bring mohalla clinics within a radius of 1 km for every citizen across Delhi. I will also work towards providing clean water to every citizen 24x7.”

Delhi currently has 450 mohalla clinics. The guarantee card promised 24x7 clean drinking water, cleaning up the Yamuna by 2025 so people can take a dip in it, among other things.

Gopal Rai

Gopal Rai

Gopal Rai (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Rai, who has been given the labour and environment portfolios, spent the day meeting staff at the secretariat as well as party workers. Rai, who is also the Delhi in-charge of AAP, said: “The new government will reach all sections of society... work will be done keeping in mind the needs of the most disadvantaged sections. The people of Delhi have new expectations from the new government and are looking forward to delivery of Delhi’s development model today. People are discussing this model across the country and we will ensure expansion of this model.”

As the new environment sector, Rai has to tackle air pollution and pollution in the Yamuna. AAP had promised to reduce pollution to a third, plant 20 million trees and saplings to make Delhi greener, and map air pollution sources in real-time.

Rajendra Pal Gautam

Rajendra Pal Gautam

Rajendra Pal Gautam (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Apart from SC/ST and social welfare portfolios from his previous tenure, Gautam has been handed the Women and Child Development portfolio as well this time. He has his task cut out as the AAP has promised to make streets safe for women by illuminating deserted stretches, improving last-mile connectivity, and appointing mohalla marshals for enhanced security of women.

“We will work for the development of people from every class and background. People have supported the party wholeheartedly and this is our time to return their faith. We will work hard to make Delhi a better city for everyone,” he said.

Imran Hussain

Imran Hussain

Imran Hussain (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Hussain, who holds the food supplies portfolio, will spearhead AAP’s flagship doorstep delivery of ration scheme. The AAP government first floated the idea of delivering ration to people at their homes in 2018, saying it would help fill distribution gaps and could also help those who queue up outside ration shops only to be disappointed. The project, however, did not take off, with the L-G refusing to sign off on it.

“The Delhi government wants to make Delhi a world-class city. Keeping this in mind, the manifesto and the ‘guarantee card’ were prepared; now the emphasis will be on the fast implementation,” said the minister.