Delhi’s first deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia listed out his government’s priorities and explained how it aims to realise the promises the AAP had made in the run-up to the Delhi assembly polls.
According to him, the anti-corruption Janlokpal Bill and the resolution to provide full statehood to Delhi will be among the first set of legislations that his government aims to pass. Sisodia, who holds several important portfolios, also said his government’s ban on demolition is no ticket to land grab.
Excerpts from an interview.
Issues of full statehood and Janlokpal had figured prominently in AAP’s election manifesto. How are you going to implement them?
The draft for Janlokpal Bill is ready and is on top of our priority list. It is a well-discussed draft and just needs to be implemented. Right from the chief minister, ministers and all the officials will be covered under it. As far as the statehood issue is concerned, our government will bring a proposal in the Delhi assembly to clear it. The issue of statehood is quite crucial for Delhi since a number of projects get delayed due to multiplicity of authorities. To begin with, I am getting a portal designed in which permissions regarding road-cutting will be uploaded. For instance, if the municipality needs to carry out road cutting, they will put it up online and the message will reach other agencies including power and water utilities. This will help them raise objections instantly.
You are Delhi’s first deputy chief minister. Whose idea it was to create the post? What was the need for it?
It was Arvind (Kejriwal) who came up with the idea and asked me about it. It was then discussed with the rest of the team and everyone liked it. The idea stems from our learning experience of the 49-day government.
As far as the purpose of the post is concerned, we wanted to give a different kind of governance model where the chief minister does not need to look into day-to-day functioning of ministries and movement of files.
This is the job of the ministers. Even the last time Arvind had kept very few departments with him, but despite that a number of routine files used to come to him.
The role of the chief minister is not to look into such details. His role is to provide governance and leadership to each and every department, identify problems, and find solutions to the problems using technology and innovative methods.
If the chief minister will get stuck in day-to-day governance and files who will look after the overall governance? Hence, it was decided that routine file and work will be done by us.
A number of departments by default get linked to the chief minister and we wanted to relieve Arvind from such responsibilities. It was decided that I should be made his deputy to take care of day-to-day work while Arvind should provide vision, leadership and governance.
Do you think the blanket ban on demolition of slums will encourage land grabbing?
It is not a blanket ban at all. The idea was that authorities should keep the government in the loop before demolition. We are not here to encourage land grab at all. Our main concern is that such action should not take place forcefully.
Unauthorised colonies have been regularised but only on papers. How do you plan to bring them on the civic map of the city?
Before we decide on anything, we must first know and fix their boundaries. For this purpose, I have asked the revenue department to carry out mapping of all such colonies. I have directed the department to expedite the work and hire retired revenue officials to help them tide over staff crunch.
But these colonies need basic facilities...
As far as I see, basic amenities have to be provided. For instance, everyone is getting water in these colonies. The issue of whether it is legal to lay new water pipelines in unauthorised colonies is a different matter. I am preparing a roadmap for all colonies whether legal or illegal and it will take some time.
Will students of Delhi schools get extra points in admissions to Delhi University?
I am not for or against this idea. It needs to be discussed. Not all Delhi University colleges are funded by Delhi government so we can’t implement it in all colleges. The university admits 70,000 students every year and only 25,000 are from Delhi. This is why we want to build new colleges.
What about nursery admission guidelines?
The matter is pending before the Supreme Court. The High Court had given schools the freedom to set their own guidelines which were at variance with the guidelines issued by the government. We hope that the court allows us to retain those guidelines (that were set by the previous government).