Delhi, know your 'Aam Aadmi' cabinet
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced the portfolios of his six ministers and himself, shortly after assuming charge of his office at the Delhi Secretariat. Here are brief profiles of your new ministers.Updated: Dec 28, 2013 19:41 IST
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced the portfolios of his six ministers and himself, shortly after assuming charge of his office at the Delhi Secretariat. Here are brief profiles of your new ministers:
Arvind Kejriwal, 45
Portfolios: Chief minister, and home, finance, power, vigilance, planning, services departments
From clearing the IIT entrance examination to cracking the UPSC to becoming Delhi’s 7th chief minister, Kejriwal’s successes have been at the first shot.
Born on August 16, 1968, in Hisar in Haryana to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi, Kejriwal cleared the IIT entrance exam 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 civil services examination (UPSC) the same year in his first attempt. Being in government service, Kejriwal was active in taking up social causes and worked for implementation of Right to Information Act at grass-roots level. 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.
In February 2006, after resigning from the post of joint commissioner in the income tax department, he became a full-time activist and started an NGO, Public Cause Research Foundation, with his award money as the corpus fund.
The Magsaysay award had made him a known face, but he truly came into the limelight during the Jan Lokpal agitation led by one-time mentor Anna Hazare in 2011.
He was part of Team Anna, along with first India’s woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and others.
While they were feeling “betrayed” by the government when it rejected their draft of the jan lokpal, the Congress and leaders of other political parties challenged them to join politics, win elections and come to Parliament if they wanted to “fight the system from within” and root out corruption.
Kejriwal decided to take a plunge into politics and formed the Aam Aadmi Party on November 26 last year, after a formal split of Team Anna.
(With Inputs from PTI)
Saurabh Bharadwaj, 34
Portfolios: Transport, food supply and environment
A techie-turned-politician, Saurabh Bharadwaj represents young professionals - the class of society which played a pivotal role in the stunning electoral success of the AAP.
Till then Saurabh, a software engineer with a firm in Gurgaon, had never thought of taking the plunge. “It had become a trend among the youngsters to attend such social campaigns and I used to tag along with my colleagues,” said Saurabh, AAP MLA from the Greater Kailash assembly constituency.
It was during one such meeting that Saurabh registered his phone number with the 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. “There were barely 40-50 people,” said Saurabh.
A BTech in software technology from Computer Science And Engineering from Bharti Vidhyapeeth College of Engineering under the IP University, Saurabh graduated in law from Osmania University during his seven year stay in Hyderabad where he was hunting for a job.
His neighbours said that even when he was not a politician, Saurabh used to help them.
Saurabh says: “The problem with our system is that people treat ministers like heavenly beings. Our aim to end this culture.”
(With inputs from Soumya Pillai)
Girish Soni, 49
Portfolios: Labour, development, skill development, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes departments
One of the two Dalit faces in the Kejriwal cabinet, Soni was born in a poor family that was sustained by a small business that his father Babulal Soni ran.
At the tender age of four, Soni lost his mother. “I was closest to my father,” said Soni.
Soni was enrolled into a government school in Madipur where he completed his primary schooling and higher secondary education. However, owing to 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 the year 1982.
Soni says his interest in social work was one of several things the he imbibed from his father. “I regard it (social work) as my hobby”, he said.
But doubling as a businessman and social worker meant very little time remained to spend with family and friends, although his wife Mamta had no qualms about it. “The day I stepped foot in this house, I knew that he is a busy man,” she said.
“But I have no complaints since whatever he is doing is for the greater good of society as well as his family and he will continue to receive my unconditional support,” she said.
Regarding Soni’s new role as an MLA and a minister, his children are very proud of their father. “It’s a thing of sheer joy for us. We are very proud of him,” said Parul, his eldest daughter.
(With inputs from Raunak Dey)
Rakhi Birla, 26
Portfolios: Social welfare and women and child development departments. She has also been given charge of making special arrangements to ensure women's safety in the national capitalThe youngest of the ministers, Rakhi Birla, 26, claims the revolutionary spirit runs in her blood.
Rakhi’s father, Bhupendra Singh Bidhlan was an active Congress worker for many years in Mangolpuri — the same constituency from where Rakhi humbled the Congress giant Rajkumar Chauhan.
Rakhi’s interest in joining politics was triggered in 2011, when she was covering the anti-corruption movement by Anna Hazare as a young journalist.
Rakhi’s father works with his sons in a small family-run business, her mother is a sweeper in a government school where she studied till Class 12.
Rakhi graduated from Delhi University’s Shivaji College and did her Masters in journalism from an institute affiliated to Hisar University.
“Rakhi’s father left the Congress due to the corruption in the party. I am happy at Rakhi’s win but I would be happier when she would will fulfill the promises made to the masses,” said her mother, Sheila Bidhlan.
Born in a Dalit family, Rakhi never allowed her caste to become a hurdle in achieving her goals. She wants to change the mindset of people and erase the caste divide.
(With inputs from Ishita Bhatia)
Somnath Bharti, 39
Portfolios: Administrative reforms, law, tourism and culture
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 on 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.
“But the popular political parties had nothing substantial to offer to the middle class and the poor citizens of the country,” said Bharti, an IIT Delhi graduate, who also earned a law degree from Delhi University.
Desperate to bring in a positive change, Bharti became one of the founder members of Aam Aadmi Party.
The 39-year-old, who defeated Congress’s Kiran Walia and BJP’s Arti Mehra from Malviya Nagar seat, lives with his financial consultant wife, two children and his mother.
Asked about the scepticism regarding the promises made by AAP, Bharti said the party has a strategy cut-out to fulfil the promises made to the people of Delhi. “The ministers will be working simultaneously. We are going by the party strategy so that all the points in the manifesto are dealt with,” said a confident Bharti.
(With inputs from Soumya Pillai)
Portfolios: Education, higher education, Public Works Department, urban development, local bodies, revenue land and building departments
Manish Sisodia, 41
If not for the neighbours eager to point out the house, it is hard to find Sisodia’s flat-turned-office in the congested lanes of east Delhi’s Pandav Nagar.
The three-bedroom flat is full of AAP members and frenzied activity. There are people everywhere — in the bedrooms, lobby, drawing room and even the kitchen. Everyone, however, talk in a hushed tone with Sisodia giving interviews to score of television journalists, while his wife Seema (40) flits between the rooms to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The couple had an arranged marriage in 1998 and has a 10-year-old son, Meer. “I had got married to a mechanical engineer and had never thought he would enter politics,” says Seema, while attending congratulatory calls from relatives.
There are no regrets though. “He always wanted to do something for the country and now all of us are feeling very happy,” she said.
Sisodia, who has studied mechanical engineering at Jammu, later earned a diploma in journalism and has been a television journalist.
Son of retired school principal, Sisodia’s family hails from Pilakhua, Uttar Pradesh. Sisodia has always been interested in social work but his life changed after joining Kejriwal’s Parivartan campaign.
“He has always been a workaholic but now he is busier than ever,” Seema said. “He hasn’t changed as a person though.”
(With inputs from Sidhartha Roy)
Satyendra Kumar Jain, 49
Portfolios: Health, industries and gurdwara elections
When her husband decided to join politics and contest election, Poonam Jain did not support the idea.
But just a few days before election, her husband Satyendra Kumar Jain — now the AAP MLA from Shakurbasti and a minister — was allegedly attacked by some people in the Rohini courts complex.
“That is when I decided to back my husband fully. When an honest person like him can be attacked in presence of police officials, then anything could happen. And this has to stop somewhere,” said Poonam.
Now vindicated in her decision, Poonam said that the Capital’s bad record on women safety also made her support her husband’s plunge into politics.
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.
“I keep going to my village often as I want to remain attached to my roots. I still work in my fields,” said Satyendra, an architect by profession.
Jain is associated with Kejriwal from the days of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation.
“My day starts at 6:30 in the morning, as that’s the best time to meet people who come early morning in the park to jog. Soon after the elections got over, I went from door-to-door to thank people for their support just as I did for seeking their support before polling,” said Jain.
(With inputs from Ishita Bhatia)
First Published: Dec 28, 2013 15:10 IST