In a first, a total of 21 Aam Aadmi Party legislators will assist the six ministers to ease increasing workload and ensure better service delivery. One an average one minister is dealing with five portfolios.
Delhi has grown exponentially in the last two decades since a central Act restricted the number of ministers in the city-state to six. But all this while the volume of the work that the government is involved in has increased manifold. HT was the first to report the government plan last month.
In addition to their work as MLAs, these 21 MLAs have their offices in the Delhi secretariat. Those with one minister will share work stations. They will get official vehicles for field assignments, but no salary or accommodation.
“Like those assisting the health ministers will visit health centres and supervise drives to control dengue,” said a senior official. Chandni Chowk MLA Alka Lamba is already assisting tourism minister Jitendra Singh Tomar on a project near Najafgarh.
Age, administrative acumen and aptitude were some of the criteria for selection. They will be called parliament secretaries. The previous Sheila Dikshit government had three parliament secretaries.
Most of AAP’s 67 MLAs are first-timers. “We want to groom them. They need exposure of administrative work. The government also needs assistance in implementing its manifesto,” said a member of the chief minister’s core team.
These MLAs are in addition to those who are, as part of existing systems, various panels, authorities, boards, utilities, and corporations.
The NCT of Delhi Act says there can be only six (excluding the CM) ministers, but there is no cap on the number of MLAs and others to assist the ministers.
Unprecedented strength in the House and ruthless scrutiny by a portfolio-free chief minister mean that the six ministers who make up the Delhi cabinet cannot afford to slip-up and will constantly have to better their performance.
AAP’s previous 49-day government too had a similar seven-member cabinet, but the possibility of new faces entering the cabinet was relatively less as the party had 28 MLAs in the 70-member House.
The party plans to use the huge number of MLAs to keep the ministers on their toes, “not letting them take their places for granted”.Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal does not have any portfolio but he said he would "regularly monitor the work of all ministers and MLAs and hold them accountable".