The Aam Aadmi Party got its first taste of power politics when it faced a rebellion from a disgruntled leader left out of the list of six ministers named on Tuesday, a day after staking claim to government in the Capital.
Arvind Kejriwal, who will be sworn in as the seventh chief minister of Delhi during the week, will have Manish Sisodia, Rakhi Birla, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Satyendra Kumar Jain, Somnath Bharti and Girish Soni as his ministers.
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But naming of the cabinet was overshadowed by anger in a section of the party over Vinod Kumar Binny’s exclusion from the list of ministers. Binny had defeated health minister AK Walia in Laxmi Nagar by around 8,000 votes.
A Delhi University graduate, Binny was with the Congress from 2009 to 2011 but left it to join the jan lokpal movement. The former east Delhi councillor is credited with AAP’s ‘mohalla sabha’ (neighbourhood meeting) plan that promises greater say to citizens in development works in their localities.
Sources close to Binny, who was tipped to be a minister, said after meeting Kejriwal in the evening, the 40-year-old left in a huff. He may hold a press conference on Wednesday to make “disclosures”, they said, even as the party claimed Binny would play a “bigger role” in AAP.
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“We have submitted the names to the Lieutenant Governor. We’re not aware of any rebellion in the party,” AAP spokesperson and Patparganj MLA Sisodia said.
“Binny did come to meet us. Everything seemed fine. If reports say that he will hold a press conference on Wednesday to level allegations against us, we have nothing to comment.”
The Kejriwal cabinet is likely to take oath at the Ramlila Maidan on December 26. Kejriwal and social activist Anna Hazare had together fasted for an anti-corruption watchdog at the sprawling ground in central Delhi. The two have since fallen out.
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When asked if Hazare would be invited to the swearing-in? “I don’t think so. We’re not sending individual invites,” Sisodia said. “No invitation has come yet. I will speak to Kejriwal on December 26,” Hazare told reporters in Ralegan Sidhi in Maharashtra.
Senior IAS officer Rajendra Kumar is tipped to be the principal secretary to Kejriwal.
Read: Kejriwal a lesson to India’s political class
The rookie party’s probable ministers are from varied backgrounds.
At 26, Rakhi Birla has no political experience, but that did not stop her being a giant killer in the polls. She won from Mangolpuri, defeating Congress minister Raj Kumar Chauhan by 10,585 votes. Having done masters in journalism, she worked as a TV journalist before jumping on the AAP’s anti-corruption bandwagon.
“It’s a generational shift if you compare the average age of BJP and Congress leaders. Our young profile benefited me and the party across Delhi,” she recently told HT.
Saurabh Bhardwaj, 34, an engineer who also has a law degree, defeated BJP’s Ajay Kumar Malhotra by more than 13,000 votes in Greater Kailash. He works in a private engineering firm.
Read: Cong split over support to AAP
Somnath Bharti, 39, pursued a degree in law after doing his masters in science from IIT-Delhi. He was also president of the IIT-Delhi alumni association. He defeated two heavyweights — BJP's Arti Mehra and Kiran Walia of Congress — in Malviya Nagar.
Satyendra Kumar Jain, 49, who used to work with the central public works department, defeated BJP’s Shyam Lal Garg by more than 7,000 votes in Shakur Basti.
Jain said he got fed up with the level of corruption in the department and quit his job.