Poor Ashish Khetan. The AAP leader first announced that he had got the status of a cabinet minister as the vice-chairman of the newly instituted Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC). But once the political implications of this largesse became evident, the AAP government quickly denied that he had ministerial status. But it nevertheless let him keep all the goodies entitled to a state cabinet minister.
So what is the Delhi Dialogue Commission? It’s a think-tank set up by the AAP after it took power in Delhi in February. The nine-member DDC’s aim is to implement the poll promises in the party’s manifesto. It will reportedly hold dialogues with different sections of the city’s population on key issues.
As DDC vice-chairman, Khetan will now be entitled to “receive reimbursement on travel, boarding expenses and remuneration on a par with the ministers of Delhi government”, according to a government statement.
This means a government bungalow, official car and a monthly salary. The former journalist will also be entitled to free electricity, telephone and office staff.
The Delhi cabinet has, meanwhile, also decided to provide the experts who are working with the DDC with the same level of accommodation as a secretary in the Delhi administration is entitled to.
“The government has limited resources and expertise and a large pool of talent and knowledge of domain expertise lies outside the government,” Khetan said. “It would be a shame if the government doesn't tap into this vast pool of talent”.
The opposition BJP and Congress have accused the AAP government of accommodating its party leaders and close aides by creating posts in the administration with official perks and offices.
In March the government announced that 21 MLAs would be appointed as parliamentary secretaries of ministers. In previous administrations only the chief minister had a parliamentary secretary.
According to the Indian Express, over 200 people are currently employed in the offices of the chief minister and his cabinet ministers, compared to 98 people under previous administrations.