Hours after the President gave nod to the appointment of Kailash Gahlot and Rajender Pal Gautam as ministers in the AAP government, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal effected major changes in the portfolio allocating key responsibilities to his new colleagues. While Gahlot was named the city’s new Transport Minister, replacing Satyendar Jain, Gautam has been given the Water Ministry, held by Kapil Mishra before he was sacked on May 6.
After his sacking, Mishra had alleged that he had seen Jain give Rs 2 crore to Kejriwal. The portfolios were allocated to Gahlot and Gautam after Lt Governor Anil Baijal administrated them the oath of office and secrecy at the L-G secretariat. Kejriwal and Assembly Speaker Ramniwas Goel attended the oath-taking ceremony.
After humiliating defeat in the recent MCD polls and in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, the reshuffle assumes significance as the Aam Aadmi Party seeks to regain the lost ground. Gahlot, the Najafgarh MLA, faces an uphill task as the public transport system in the city is not particularly in a good shape. Since its formation, the AAP government has not been able to add a single new bus to the fleet of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). Gahlot has also been given the charge of Law and Justice, Information Technology and Administrative Reforms which were until now with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Similarly, Seemapuri MLA Rajender Pal Gautam’s responsibilities bring him challenges as the AAP government has promised to provide tap water to every household by the end of this year. Gautam will be the new Social Welfare and SC/ST Minister also. Besides, he has also been given all portfolios held by Mishra– tourism, art and culture, gurudwara elections. The government said that some portfolios held by Sisodia and Jain were given to the newly appointed ministers as they were already loaded with several portfolios and can now focus on remaining departments.
Sisodia moved out of three departments-IT, Administrative Reforms, Law and Justice- but he still looks after education, finance, planning, land & building, revenue, vigilance, services while Jain still has Urban Development, Health, Industries, PWD and Home. Kejriwal does not hold any portfolio. A senior government official said “revolutionary steps” are being taken by the government in the education and the health sectors and Sisodia and Jain can now focus on them. Important decisions on Mohalla Clinics, poly clinics, free medicines and tests in government’s hospitals have been taken under the leadership of Jain.
In the education sector too, several infrastructural projects are being carried out in government-run schools. “Government is also focusing on quality education in its schools. Under the leadership of Sisodia, education department recently decided to send government school teachers to other cities and abroad for skill training,” the official said.