NEW DELHI: Setting his government’s roadmap for Delhi’s development after being sworn in as chief minister for the third time, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “blessings” and reached out to rival parties, while noting that the country is discussing new kind of “politics of work and performance” after his party’s win.
Kejriwal along with his cabinet colleagues Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Imran Hussain, Rajendra Pal Gautam and Kailash Gahlot were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal at the historic Ramlila Maidan that was a sea of tricolour with a large number of people and party supporters turning up for the event.
Striking a conciliatory political tone in his address to the gathering, the 51-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician sought cooperation from his rivals BJP and Congress in making Delhi the “number one city”, saying he has “forgiven” them for the remarks against him during the high-octane poll campaign.
“We have forgiven our opposition for whatever remarks they made on us. I would also like to request the opposition parties to forget what happened during the elections. I want to work together with all the parties for the development of Delhi. I want to work together with the central government to make Delhi a world-class city,” the chief minister said.
He asserted that people may have voted for different parties, but he is the “chief of minister of all”.
“I had also invited the prime minister for the oath ceremony today, but I guess he could not make it because he was busy. I want the prime minister to bless us so that we can work for the development and progress of Delhi, Kejriwal, whose previous tenure was marred by several run-ins with the Centre, said in his nearly 20-minute address.
The prime minister, who was in his constituency Varanasi where he inaugurated several projects, later greeted Kejriwal on Twitter.
“I congratulate Shri @ArvindKejriwal on taking oath as Delhi’s CM earlier today. Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure,” Modi tweeted.
The AAP scripted a phenomenal victory by sweeping 62 out of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly polls after a campaign where Kejriwal desisted from directly attacking Modi and stuck to his development plank.
Kejriwal termed himself Delhi’s “son” and the “chief of minister of all” people irrespective of the party they voted for.
During his speech, he credited the people of Delhi for giving birth to a new kind of “politics of work and performance”, listed the various initiatives and defended the ‘freebies’ extended by his government, saying it would be a shame if he charged people for basic amenities like education and health.
The new politics is of schools, hospitals, 24-hour and cheap power supply, water, roads, women’s security, corruption-free Delhi, he said, adding that initiatives like mohalla clinics are being replicated across the country and abroad.
This new politics is being discussed all over the country, Kejriwal said.
“In the last five years, we have tried to develop Delhi on a fast mode and in the next five years, we will continue the same,” he said.
The AAP supremo began his address with ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ and ended it by singing ‘Hum Honge Kamyaab’, in which he was joined by the crowd at the venue.
Several thousands carrying AAP and national flags converged at the Ramlila Maidan, which has been a witness to Kejriwal’s transformation from an activist to a chief minister, as it reverberated with slogans of ‘Lage Raho Kejriwal’ and ‘We Love You Kejriwal’.
Kejriwal’s parents, wife Sunita, a former IRS officer, daughter Harshita also attended the swearing-in ceremony. The AAP leader had extended an open invitation to Delhiites for the ceremony to see their “son” taking oath. Supporters also poured in from several states, including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
At least, six ‘Little Mufflermen’ dressed up in Kejriwal’s trademark winter wear and sporting a faux moustache were the cynosure of all eyes at the event. Among them was Aavyan Tomar, who was specially invited after his pictures dressed up as Kejriwal on the counting day had gone viral when he appeared outside the AAP headquarters here.
The child played around and in front of the ceremonial platform while Kejriwal addressed the gathering after being sworn-in as the chief minister of Delhi for the third consecutive time. AAP MLAs Raghav Chadha and Somnath Bharti also were seen taking selfies and playing with Tomar. Party supporter and Bollywood musician Vishal Dadlani, who had composed ‘Lage Raho Kejriwal’ song, was among those who attended the event.
From ‘Singham 3’ to ‘Nayak 2’, AAP supporters at the swearing-in held posters likening their leader to popular Bollywood protagonists who fought for justice. “Nayak 2 is back again,” read one of the posters, which had a picture of actor Anil Kapoor on the right, and that of Kejriwal wearing the famous “Anna cap” with ‘Aam Aadmi’ written in Hindi over it on the left.
Huge banners sporting ‘Dhanyawad Delhi’ were also put up in and around the venue and there were tight security arrangements. Many AAP supporters said it is time for Kejriwal to go national and his next aim should be to change the country’s politics.
“The atmosphere in the whole country has turned toxic, now the AAP should work towards changing that. It is very important to clean other parts of the country,” Suman Rao, a construction worker from Bhopal, said.
The AAP had planned to keep the ceremony “Delhi-specific” and had not invited chief ministers of other states or political leaders. Only BJP MLA Vijendra Gupta, who was leader of opposition in the last assembly, attended the ceremony, though all BJP MLAs and MPs from Delhi were invited.
“Your son has taken oath for the third time as Delhi chief minister. This is not my victory but yours,” the chief minister said.
Kejriwal said he did not give step-motherly treatment to anyone and has worked for all in the last five years. “I am everybody’s chief minister, be it supporters of the AAP, the Congress or the BJP. I have never discriminated against them in the last five years. I want to say to the 2 crore people of Delhi, irrespective of whom you voted for in the elections or what party you belong to, you are my family now. You can come to me without any hesitation and I will complete all your work irrespective of your affiliation, caste and whether you are rich or poor,” he said.
“They say Kejriwal is making everything free, but I want to say that everything precious in the world is free. The love that a mother has for her child is precious and priceless, the fact that a father stays hungry to afford a good future for his child is priceless. Shravan Kumar served his parents with all his might. Kejriwal is your Shravan Kumar.
“Do I start charging people for education and health? Do I start charging patients for their operations? That is not possible,” Kejriwal said. Around 50 people from different walks of life who contributed to the development of the city during the last five years shared the stage with Kejriwal as special guests during the ceremony.
He lauded the contribution of the ‘Delhi ke nirmata’, saying “it is not me, or AAP but all people like these who are responsible for developing the national capital”. Shabina Naaz, who has been working with night shelters around Chandni Chowk and Kashmiri Gate for the past five years, said she can’t believe it really happened. “When the first time I got a call I could not believe that it is really happening. I can tell you that only the AAP government can invite a person as unimportant as me,” Naaz said.
Lazwanti, who has been working as a sanitation worker for the last nine years in Delhi, said recognising people like her shows the “affectionate nature” and the ground connect of the AAP government. “No one recognises our contribution but this government is different. It not only recognised our contribution but also honoured us,” and an emotional Lazwanti said.
Arun Kumar, a bus marshall who saved a six-year-old from being kidnapped, said the experience has changed his life.
“It is an honour for me to represent bus marshals. We work hard every day to provide security to women. The AAP government is very serious about women safety and we are making the dream of Arvind Kejriwal true,” said Kumar. PTI