AAP's first-time Ministers out of their depth

December 31, 2013 02:47 am | Updated May 12, 2016 10:08 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The transition from Aam Aadmi to a Minister can perhaps be tricky. That probably explains why many of the Aam Aadmi Party’s first-time Ministers appeared to be out of depth on their first full working day in office.

Some Ministers even admitted to their “inexperience” in handling portfolios and engaging with journalists.

There was chaos at the Delhi Secretariat soon after it came to light that journalists had been banned from entering the building and were restricted only to the press room area outside.

Health Minister Satyendra Jain, who had called for a press briefing at noon but was two hours late, indicated that when he took charge on Saturday, he was disturbed by journalists and could not work.

“I don’t have experience. I apologise on behalf of my party and the government for any inconvenience. I am coming in front of you for the first time…,” he said, sporting an AAP topi. “I did not know where the press conference was.”

Mr. Jain did not go through with his press briefing and was later joined by Urban Development and Education Minister Manish Sisodia, who sorted out the issues and promised “more transparency.” Mr. Sisodia promised that there would be no restrictions on journalists from accessing the building.

Another Minister, who is also learning the ropes, wrongly identified the number of districts in the capital. He also wanted to know if Ministers of the previous Congress-led government came to the Secretariat every day.

Some groundwork was done, though. Women and Child Development Minister Rakhi Birla is learnt to have oriented herself with the different Ministries under her.

Mr. Jain spent the morning, inspecting dispensaries in North Delhi. “The facilities for patients are very good,” he told The Hindu . He also dropped in at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in the evening.

“I have spent the day attending long meetings. We are trying to come up with a concrete plan to reinforce health facilities,” he added.

Both Labour Minister Girish Soni and Law Minister Somnath Bharti were in meetings all day. Transport Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj got himself updated on the transport situation in the city.

Mr. Bharadwaj also asked for data from the Food and Civil Supplies Department, which is part of his portfolio, and will hold a review meeting on Tuesday.

Mr. Sisodia, who has been inspecting Delhi government schools, was clearly not prepared for what he saw. “The facilities are a mess. A child spends 7 to 8 hours in school without even toilets, how will we gain their trust?”

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