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Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 12, 2014
In her first elaborate comments on the functioning of the Aam Aadmi Party government, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit slammed the Arvind Kejriwal-led regime for holding a "free-for-all" in the name of redressing public grievances.

"Every party has its own way of doing things. But I fail to understand what is happening now. Today we all saw what happened," Dikshit, a three-term chief minister of Delhi, told HT.

The former chief minister criticised the AAP government for the chaos at its first janata darbar on Saturday, saying even 24 hours would be inadequate to address people’s problems if no planning goes into holding such events.

After the much-hyped government-public interface had to be called off with poor management leading to a stampede-like situation, the senior Congress leader said: "One should be methodical and practical in holding such an exercise. People have to be informed when and how they should approach the government. You cannot have a free-for-all affair." 

"We had a different system of holding such janata darbars. We conducted them smoothly and successfully for 15 years. I used to meet people, from 500 to 1,500, from 9am till 11am when it was time to get into office. We would listen to people’s complaints, their suggestions patiently," she said.

When told chief minister Kejriwal has hinted that future gatherings could be held in a stadium, Dikshit said, "If thousands of people come at a time, even 24 hours would be inadequate to hear them all, let alone resolving all the problems."

Criticism apart, the senior leader had a word of advice for the new government, installed last month with outside support from the Congress. "You have to be methodical and understand limitations. There are several cases for which people would meet you again. We had people asking us to help them get treatment at a particular hospital. We used to call them after a couple of days. AAP is doing things their way."

Former IPS officer and social activist Kiran Bedi also attacked Kejriwal and said public hearing is a part of good governance but it should not be organised on the streets. She tweeted: "For God’s sake, Arvind and Team, Secretariats are not run from rooftops! Please take time to listen/absorb! And then take considered decisions!"

Social scientist Ravi Ranjan said, "Governance should always be participatory but this participation should be institutionalised to follow procedures and rule of law so that chaos could be minimised."

"It is necessary to take government to people but you cannot govern on the streets. There has to be a grievance redressal mechanism where problems could be documented and responded to in a time-bound manner," he said.