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.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) 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 current assembly has an unprecedented 67 AAP MLAs of whom 60 are not in the cabinet. The party plans to use this huge number to keep the ministers on their toes, “not letting them take their places for granted”.
Some of these MLAs are likely to be attached to the ministers to be “groomed” after their customary swearing-in in the assembly next week. “We will do it (allotting MLAs to ministers) soon,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told HT on Tuesday.
Up to three MLAs may be attached to CM Arvind Kejriwal who is not heading any portfolio and will be in direct touch with the public and monitor his ministers. People’s feedback will be key if Kejriwal decides to revamp his cabinet at a later date with “performance and potential being the sole criteria” for any such changes.
“It’s a problem of plenty. We have a talent pool that needs to be kept busy and motivated. We must ensure that as and when needed MLAs — many of whom are highly qualified and experts in varied fields —are counted,” said a party strategist.
Senior AAP leader Ashutosh said the party would “complement and compete with the government” to provide better results to the public. “AAP will create a talent pool of MLAs and volunteers with very strong organisational competence and leadership. MLAs will be instructed to strengthen contact with the people. It will help the party remain more grounded,” he said.
Kejriwal, who held power, finance and vigilance portfolios with him in his last stint, has said he would “regularly monitor the work of all ministers and MLAs and hold them accountable”.
In his second stint, Kejriwal has retained close aide Sisodia — elevating him to the post of deputy CM — and Satyendra Jain in the cabinet.
First-time MLAs Gopal Rai, Sandeep Kumar, Asim Ahmed Khan and Jitender Singh Tomar form the rest of the cabinet. The Delhi government has provision for just six ministers.