Who'll be AAP ministers? Kejriwal keeps cards close to chest

  • New Delhi, Hindustan Times, HT Correspondent
  • Updated: Feb 12, 2015 08:42 IST

A day after Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) registered a thumping victory in the Delhi assembly elections, speculation is rife over how his new cabinet would look like.

Kejriwal, whose party won 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi House, has so far kept his cards close to the chest.

There's no doubt that Kejriwal will assume the CM's responsibility for the second time. His close aide Manish Sisodia, Greater Kailash MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj and former Apple executive Adarsh Shashtri – a first-time MLA from Dwarka – may get ministerial berths.

Former ministers Satyendra Jain and Girish Soni can make the cut too. Somnath Bharti and Rakhi Birla are also in contention.

However, there is no official word yet on the new ministers. And there could be some surprises as well. Delhi has provision for six ministers, excluding the CM.

Here are the brief profiles of the ministers in the first AAP government. Some of them are the front runners this time as well.

Arvind Kejriwal, 46 (New Delhi)

Call it beginner's luck or outcome of sheer hard work, Kejriwal has always aced his biggest challenges in his first attempt. And after Tuesday's thumping victory, he has proved there's always a second chance for those who deserve it.

Born on August 16, 1968, in Haryana's Hisar to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi, Kejriwal cleared the IIT entrance exam in his first attempt just after school in 1985 and graduated as a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur.

After completing his engineering, he joined Tata Steel in 1989 and worked there for three years. He resigned in 1992 and cracked the UPSC examination the same year in his first attempt.

His efforts in the enactment of the RTI act to empower the poorest citizens of India won him the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006.

He was part of Team Anna, along with India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and others. Kejriwal decided to take a plunge into politics and formed the Aam Aadmi Party on November 26 in 2013, after a formal split of Team Anna.

The nascent AAP won 28 out of 70 seats in its debut election in Delhi, but Kejriwal himself emerged as a giant killer, sweeping Sheila Dikshit out not just from office but also her constituency. But his brief stint was plagued by controversies. He resigned just after 49 days in power following the deadlock over a controversial anti-graft bill.

The former Delhi CM, however, campaigned hard in Delhi and reiterated he would not commit the same mistakes again if he got another chance. Banking on his anti-corruption agenda, he also put emphasis on providing Delhiites with cheap 'bijli-paani' (electricity and water).

Manish Sisodia, 42 (Patparganj)

Son of a retired school principal, Sisodia hails from Pilakhua, Uttar Pradesh. Sisodia has always been interested in social work but his life changed after joining Kejriwal's Parivartan campaign.

Sisodia, 41, who has been Kejriwal's oldest associates and the second-most popular face of the AAP, has studied mechanical engineering at Jammu and later earned a diploma in journalism. He has experoence in the field of television journalist.

Sisodia was the minister for education, higher education, public works department, urban development and local bodies in the previous AAP government.

Saurabh Bhardwaj, 34 (Greater Kailsah)

A techie-turned-politician, Bhardwaj represents young professionals.

In 2011, he was among the thousands of youngsters who responded to the clarion call made by anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare for a corruption-free polity and the demand for setting up a lokpal. Till then Bhardwaj, a software engineer with a firm in Gurgaon, had never thought of taking the plunge.

It was during one such meeting that he registered his phone number with AAP volunteers. In October 2012, he got an invite to attend a meeting at Nehru Park to discuss the proposal to float a political party.

A BTech in software technology from a college of under the IP University, Bharadwaj graduated in law from Osmania University during his seven-year stay in Hyderabad where he was hunting for a job.

He is Delhi's former transport, food supply and environment minister.

Satyendra Kumar Jain, 50 (Shakur Basti)

Jain has been associated with Kejriwal from the days of Hazare's anti-corruption agitation.

An architect by profession, Jain quit his job with the central public works department (CPWD) over the rampant corruption and turned to politics.

A social worker, he helped Chitrakoot-based social organisation Drishti, working for visually impaired girls, with the construction of the organisation's building.

He is also associated with social organisation Sparsh — which works for mentally challenged children — and organises mass marriages for poor girls.

Jain lives in a joint family in Saraswati Vihar, where his father, a retired teacher, moved soon after his birth from his hometown Kirthal in Baghpat, UP.

He was allocated the health and industries ministries in the previous Kejriwal-led government.

Girish Soni, 50 (Madipur)

A Dalit face, Soni was born in a poor family sustained by a small business that his father Babulal Soni ran.

Soni was enrolled into a government school in Madipur where he completed his primary schooling and higher secondary education.

However, because of financial problems, Soni was unable to pursue a graduation. Instead, he opted for a diploma course in air-conditioning and refrigeration from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Pusa in Delhi, which he completed in 1982.

Soni says his interest in social work was one of several things he imbibed from his father. But doubling as a businessman and social worker means there is very little time to spend with family and friends, although his wife Mamta has no regrets about it.

He held the portfolios of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, employment, development and labour ministries in the previous Kejriwal-led government.

Somnath Bharti, 40 (Malviya Nagar)

As a social activist, Bharti would always be on the forefront to take up people's issues with the government through various means, including filing public interest litigations.

During the hearing of one of his PILs, the judge told Bharti that some of the changes can only be brought in by the legislature. Bharti decided to become the part of the system to bring in the change from within.

Desperate to bring in a positive change, the IIT-Delhi graduate became one of the founder members of the AAP.

Bharti is the former administrative reforms, law, tourism, art and culture minister.

He ran into trouble after conducting a raid to bust an alleged 'sex and drug racket' in south Delhi during the Kejriwal government's stay in power. It snowballed into a major controversy, triggering a tug of war between the AAP and Delhi Police.

Rakhi Birla, 27 (Mangolpuri)

Birla's father, Bhupendra Singh Bidhlan, was an active Congress worker for many years in Mangolpuri. Her interest in joining politics was triggered in 2011, when she was covering the anti-corruption movement by Anna Hazare as a young journalist.

Birla graduated from Delhi University's Shivaji College and did her masters in journalism from an institute affiliated to Hisar University.

She never allowed her caste to become a hurdle in achieving her goals. She wanted to change the mindset of people and erase the caste divide.

She is Delhi's former women and child development, social welfare and languages minister.

Besides, AAP leader Adarsh Shashtri, grandson of Lal Bahadur Shashtri, may also get a ministerial berth. There is a big talk that he might implement the AAP's WiFi promise.

(With agency inputs)

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