Balwinder Kaur, 85, who has arthritis and supports herself with a walking stick, braved the winter chill early Saturday morning to get a vantage point outside the Delhi Secretariat where the 'people's chief minister' Arvind Kejriwal held his much-publicised 'Janta Darbar', or people's court. However, she was left disappointed.
Eager to pour her heart out, Kaur, a resident of west Delhi's Naraina, had reached the venue as early as 7 a.m. despite the scheduled time being 9:30 am.
"I knew that a lot of people would come here so I reached early and also got a seat in the front. But just after 9 a.m. hundreds of people came from all directions breaking the barricades," Kaur told IANS. "I wanted to meet the CM but could not due to the massive rush," added the disappointed octogenarian who lives alone in her second floor flat which has not been getting adequate water supply for the last six months.
The first public meeting was held on the main road outside the secretariat. Barricades had been erected on the road divider. On one side was Kejriwal and his team of ministers facing the numerous complainants seated on chairs waiting for their turn while hundreds more pushed, shoved and jostled from behind the barricades, ultimately breaking them.
As the overwhelming crowd swarmed Kejriwal, some even climbing the tables and chairs around him, police personnel whisked him inside the secretariat sensing the growing restiveness of the people and a possible stampede.
The crowd then turned to cabinet minister Manish Sisodia who too beat a hasty retreat.
According to Aam Aadmi Party volunteers and Delhi government officials, seven separate desks had been put in place manned by all the respective ministers and their staff to streamline the procedure.
However, "everybody wanted to meet Kejriwal ji or Sisodia ji," said AAP volunteer Akash Singh.
But the lucky few who managed to personally meet the ministers weren't satisfied either.
According to SK Rungta, a visually impaired lawyer associated with the National Federation of Blind, the whole event was an eyewash.
"The previous government had in 2009 scrapped the scheme wherein blind students got financial aid from the government. In 2011, we met Sheila Dikshit (former Delhi chief minister) and she promised to revive the scheme but then elections took place," Rungta said.
"Today we came here and met Rakhi Birla (cabinet minister) and got a receipt. But I wanted a concrete solution or at least an action plan to solve the issue," said Rungta, accompanied by at least half a dozen visually impaired activists, who all came with great expectations from the new dispensation but went back disappointed.