Manish Sisodia will on Saturday become Delhi’s first deputy chief minister, a move that will let his boss Arvind Kejriwal rule the Capital and also strengthen the party nationally by drawing on the massive mandate.
The move will also send a signal to the party and the bureaucracy about who the official Number 2 is besides making a statement to the central government with whom the new government will have to work closely in order to deal with policing, land and civic issues.
“The mandate is for five years. There is a lot to do. We have got an overwhelming majority. It’s not possible for Arvind to meet all 67 MLAs and volunteers in Delhi. Our units in other states are aspiring to fight polls. Arvind will be needed there,” a senior party leader said.
The party is in no mood to choose a new national convener even as the current one — Arvind Kejriwal — is set to be sworn-in as Delhi’s chief minister on Saturday following the party’s landslide victory in the assembly polls.
Known in political circles as Kejriwal’s all-weather shadow, Patparganj legislator Sisodia is likely to get the departments of urban development, public works and education. And he is already talking tough. He told PTI on Friday that the AAP government will pursue allegations of corruption against political bigwigs and top industrialists.
Omesh Saigal, a former chief secretary of Delhi, however feels such a post doesn’t have much significance.
“As a deputy chief minister, Sisodia can preside over cabinet meetings, but he cannot muddle with the CM’s portfolios,” he said. “At best the deputy’s post is a way of showing respect, and making a statement if it’s a one-party government like in the case of Vajpayee and Advani,” he said.
Journalist-turned-activist Sisodia was the minister of education, Public Works Department, urban development and local bodies in the 49-day AAP government straddling 2013 and 2014. He is expected to deliver a better school system in his new stint.
Sisodia told HT that the focus this time would be to provide a trustworthy government to make Delhi the country’s first corruption-free city. “We will fulfill the needs of the people. We will complete what we couldn’t in our previous innings.”
He said slashing of power tariff by 50% would be done “as soon as possible”. “We will bring back the free water scheme which was discontinued after we quit the government as water is basic right,” he said.