India, anti-corruption, helpline, AAP, Bismillah Geelani

It’s cold and it’s early in the morning.

But the road outside Delhi’s Secretariat building is bustling.

Thousands of men women and children have gathered here to be part of the Delhi government’s Public hearing.

This is the latest initiative by the ruling Common People’s Party or AAP to reach out to the people.

The Chief Minister along with his cabinet colleagues will personally hear their problems and grievances.

Many like 28-year old Anshuman reached the venue when it was still dark.

“Arvind Kejrival is a nice person I just want to meet him once; I want to meet him to find a job, I desperately need a job but I can’t get it anywhere. I’m sure he will do something for me.

The ruling party took the reins of Delhi’s state government late last month ending 15 years of Congress Party rule.

The party has vowed to root out corruption from public life and has already taken some steps in this direction.

They include an anti-corruption helpline that was launched last week and has become a huge hit.

The helpline encourages and empowers callers to conduct a sting operation on the officials demanding bribe and help authorities to arrest them.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal explains.

“People are asked to record their conversation with the corrupt officials with details of the work the bribe is being demanded for and the venue for delivering the money. After hearing the recording, officers from the anti-corruption department create a trap and catch the official red-handed.”

Kejrival says corruption is widespread and deep-rooted and can’t be stamped out without involving ordinary citizens in the process.



“With this we are making every citizen of Delhi an anti-corruption crusader and their weapon in this fight is their phone. The idea is to instil fear in the hearts of the corrupt. They should always live with the fear that the person talking to them might be recording the conversation. The message for them is clear-either mend your ways or be ready to go to jail. There is no other way.”

The helpline evoked an overwhelming public response with more than 4000 calls on the very first day.

Among its first users is 72-year old Mahinderpal Singh.

He conducted a successful sting operation exposing a cooperative society that has been defrauding people for several years.
   
“I have been raising this issue for the last 4 years. I filed a number of complaints, approached every single officer in the previous government but I was not able to even register a case. The authorities refused to register an FIR. And here I got them arrested in one day. It has really restored my confidence in the system.”

At the “Janta Darbar” the crowds are now in the tens of thousands.

The Chief Minister arrives with just a couple of officers by his side he directly went into the crowd and began receiving complaints himself.

But he had to be escorted as things became chaotic with people falling on each other in an attempt to reach him.

Other political parties, who are increasingly growing insecure with the rising popularity of the AAP, termed the event a flop showing they can’t govern.

Vijay Goel is a senior leader with the opposition BJP.

“You can’t create parallel systems, the existing system is good enough if you are capable and can make it work properly. These are just populist measures and promises aimed at winning votes in the upcoming elections. But they can’t work for two long if your intensions are not good.

But there was hardly any bitter feeling among the people though many were disappointed that they couldn’t meet the Chief Minister.

Social activist Ankit Gupta says, what they are witnessing is a revolution in the making.

“Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt of Sawraj or self rule in which ordinary citizens could meet any leader anywhere, and be equal partner in decision making. This is the beginning of that era. We have another Gandhi today who has unleashed another freedom struggle and he will win the fight because people are with him. He will set everything right.”

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