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Kejriwal takes charge of water portfolio, gets to work

Over 30 months after he became the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal on Monday took charge of Delhi’s water and sewerage management system – and immediately issued instructions to overcome the capital’s nagging water woes.

But the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) denied that this was a signal that Kejriwal would now focus more on Delhi and travel less outside to promote the party.

After winning the Delhi Assembly elections in February 2015, Kejriwal had declared he would not keep any portfolio with him but monitor everyone’s work for overall better governance.

With Monday’s U-turn, Kejriwal will now head the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which is responsible for supplying potable water to millions in the capital.

The water department was until now with Rajendra Pal Gautam, who still holds the departments of social welfare, Gurudwara elections and cooperatives.

Gautam got the water portfolio three months ago after Kejriwal sacked minister Kapil Mishra, who has turned a vocal dissident.

When he became the Chief Minister for the first time in 2013-14, albeit only for 49 days, Kejriwal had five departments with him including Power, Finance, Planning, Vigilance and Home.

But in 2015, he allocated all the departments to the other six ministers, the bulk of them to his long-time confidant and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

This helped Kejriwal to travel a lot outside Delhi as he tried to build the AAP, frequently targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj explained why Kejriwal had reversed his 2015 decision.