Meet Arvind Kejriwal's Team Delhi

Dec 30 2013, 11:07 IST
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Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal along with six other Cabinet ministers at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. (IE photo by Renuka Puri) Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal along with six other Cabinet ministers at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. (IE photo by Renuka Puri)
SummaryAAP has rewritten the grammar of politics in Delhi and may possibly do so elsewhere.

Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has rewritten the grammar of politics in Delhi and may possibly do so elsewhere, took oath on Saturday as Delhi Chief Minister, along with six others Cabinet minister – Manish Sisodia, Girish Soni, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain, Saurabh Bharadwaj and Somnath Bharti.

Here's a look at the profiles of the newest members of the Delhi government:

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal: A mascot of unconventional politics

In-charge: Planning, Services and all other departments not allocated

Emerging as a mascot of an alternative brand of politics, engineer-turned civil servant Arvind Kejriwal has changed the political discourse to steer his AAP to power – a sweet revenge for the activist's fledgling party that was once branded as "mango people in a banana republic". Leading from the front, the 45-year-old leader of Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) anchored his campaign in an unconventional way to see it become the second largest party in Delhi Assembly elections with a stunning showing that halted the 15-year rule of Congress.

With interests of the common man at the core of AAP's agenda, Kejriwal's triumph over three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to become her successor today was the proverbial icing on the cake to earn him the tag of 'giant killer'.

Often called the anti-corruption man, the diminutive and bespectacled IITian and a former tax official has catapulted himself from one of the many proponents of an ombudsman to check graft to the force behind a widely popular people's movement.

A renowned activist, who was dismissed as a political greenhorn, cemented his place in politics with an impressive political debut for his one-year-old AAP that challenged the political establishment.

Born on August 16, 1968 in Hisar in Haryana to Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi, Arvind sent the entire political spectrum into a tizzy, attacking both BJP and Congress on the issues of corruption, exorbitant rise in power and water tariff, safety of women and had managed to make a dent in the vote banks of both the parties. (Read full profile)

Manish Sisodia: From journalist to Kejriwal's man Friday

In-charge: Revenue, PWD, Urban Development, Education, Higher Education, Local Bodies and Land and Building

Manish Sisodia, the man Friday of Arvind Kejriwal, came to prominence during Anna Hazare's movement for Jan Lokpal Bill in 2011. The 41-year-old is also part of AAP's central working committee and it came as no surprise that he was selected in Kejriwal's Cabinet. The journalist-turned-activist-turned-politician defeated BJP's Nakul Bhardwaj by over 11,000 votes from Patparganj constituency in East Delhi.

Sisodia had worked as a journalist with Zee News and All India Radio for a long time. He later quit journalism to participate in the agitation for Right To Information.

He was one of the founding members of the Jan Lokpal agitation and part of the team which chalked out its first draft. When Anna Hazare was arrested and sent to jail during the agitation, he too was sent to prison.

Sisodia had declared assets worth Rs 41,83,942 in his election affidavit. He has a diploma in journalism from Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan.

Satyendra Kumar Jain: Architect-turned-minister

In-charge: Health, Industries and Gurudwara Elections

Satyendra Kumar Jain, an architect by profession, quit his job with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) due to prevailing corruption in the Department and turned to politics. An MLA from Shakur Basti, 49-year-old Jain defeated BJP's Shyam Lal Garg by a margin of 7,062 votes.

Jain had actively participated in the Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal movement where he came in touch with Arvind Kejriwal. A well known social worker, Jain helped Chitrakoot based social organisation Drishti, working for visually impaired girls, with construction of the orgaisation's building.

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

A native of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, Jain, who lives in Saraswati Vihar in a joint family, starts his day at 6.30 am meeting people and listening to their problems.

Somnath Bharti: Lawyer-cum activist with IIT degree

In-charge: Administrative Reforms, Law, Tourism and Culture

A lawyer-turned activist with an IIT degree to boot, Somanth Bharti breached a Congress bastion by wresting power from three-time sitting MLA and high-profile former Delhi minister Kiran Walia from crucial Malviya Nagar constituency in South Delhi.

Among the several giant killers that the nascent party threw in Delhi elections, Bharti toppled former Education Minister and Women and Child Development Minister Walia. After earning a Masters degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and a degree in law later, 39-year-old Bharti pursued a legal career.

As a lawyer, he fought for social causes through his profession and dragged issues dealing with societal matters to the court to bring them to justice.

An active member during Jan Lokpal movement, this IIT alumnus fought for justice for the innocent masses.

"After the Delhi gang-rape case, Delhi Police tried to falsely convict around eight innocent young boys, and Bharti fought for those boys and helped them get justice," the AAP party website said.

Saurabh Bhardwaj: An engineer gets a political front seat

In-charge: Transport, Food and Civil Supplies and Environment

An engineer by profession, Saurabh Bhardwaj pulled off an upset in the high-profile Greater Kailash constituency by defeating scion of a veteran BJP leader and has now earned a top place for himself in the new government.

34-year-old Bhardwaj fought the elections in the BJP-stronghold and defeated Ajay Kumar Malhotra, son of the outgoing Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly V K Malhotra by more than 13,000 votes in the decisive South Delhi constituency.

It was the rape of a poor girl that had shaken Bhardwaj and he had decided to fight for justice for the people. During this period he also figured that to provide justice in these matters, it was imperative to have legal knowledge.

"Bhardwaj was working in a private firm when in 2005 a horrendous incidence of rape happened with a poor girl... He studied law and regularly helps the poor in giving them all legal help possible," the AAP party website said.

He constantly raises his voice for the blind, poor students, flood affected and the old, it said.

Greater Kailash constituency comprises high-income voter groups residing in posh GK, C R Park, and the low and middle-income group living in Chirag Dilli village.

Bhardwaj knocked down Ajay Malhotra in the elections.

Rakhi Birla - Youngest minister in Kejriwal's cabinet

In-charge: Social Welfare and Women and Child Development departments

At an age when most youngsters struggle to find their feet, 26-year-old Rakhi Birla is not just the youngest minister in Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet, but also its only woman face. Birla had emerged as a giant killer after thumping four-time MLA and PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan in the Sheila Dikshit government in Mangolpuri by around 10,500 votes.

Before joining AAP, Birla had worked with a private news channel. She had also been working in collaboration with social organisations for the cause of the Valmiki community.

Birla hails from the Valmiki community and her father was associated with the Congress for a long time but quit the party in 2011 during the Janlokpal movement.

She was born in Delhi to Sheila and Bhupendra Singh Bidhlan and is the youngest of their four daughters. Birla's last name which reminds you of one of India's business families, got actually stuck with her after her school teacher made a mistake while preparing her Class X certificate and wrote Birla instead of Bidhlan, which is her actual surname.

Birla had declared assets worth Rs 51,150 in her election affidavit. Her family has been related to social work since the last four generations, from her great-grandfather and then grandfather who was part of India's freedom struggle.

Coming from a modest background, Birla always dreamt big. After graduating from Delhi University's Shivaji College, she did her masters in mass communication and joined a local television channel as a reporter.

During her stint as journalist, Birla covered the Janlokpal movement and came in contact of India Against Corruption and Arvind Kejriwal.

Girish Soni: AAP's Dalit face with big dreams for poor

In-charge: Labour, Development and SC,ST departments.

One of the two Dalit faces in Arvind Kejriwal's young cabinet, Girish Soni with his tireless contribution to Aam Aadmi Party's 'Bijli-Pani' agitation has come a long way from the youth who had to give up on his higher studies owing to financial problems.

The 49-year-old MLA from Madipur nudged out BJP's candidate Kailash Sankla by a little over 1,100 votes to emerge victorious in the Delhi Assembly polls.

Soni, who had been associated with Bharat Naujawan Sabha in 1980, was also the general secretary of the party in his constituency. He had tirelessly participated in AAP's 'Bijli-Pani' agitation and motivated people to join as well.

The AAP leader did his primary and high schooling from Madipur but owing to financial problem was unable to pursue higher education. So, instead he opted for a diploma course in air-conditioning and refrigeration from the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Pusa in Delhi.

Inspired by his father from an early age, Soni whose family sustained on a small leather business will now seek to be an inspiration for the lesser fortunate.

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