Kejriwal takes oath as Delhi CM, vows to end graft

NEW DELHI: Bringing to a climax a tumultuous journey to power, Arvind Kejriwal took oath as Delhi Chief Minister for the second time in fourteen months with the promise of making the national capital corruption-free.

A much mellowed Kejriwal, who is now the eighth Chief Minister of Delhi, announced that the Aam Admi Party (AAP) would not foray into electoral politics outside Delhi for the next five years.

Kejriwal (46) was administered the oath of office Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung in the presence of a euphoric crowd that packed the Ramlila Maiden. Along with him, Mr. Manish Sisodia, Asim Ahmed Khan, Sandeep Kumar, Satyender Jain, Gopal Rai and Jitender Singh Tomar were also sworn in. Mr. Sisodia will be the Deputy CM.

The Chief Minister will not keep any portfolios with him, a decision that is being interpreted in different ways. By not burdening himself with specific portfolios, he wants to keep in mind the larger picture of implementing AAP’s poll promises. Moreover, AAP is a raw party that needs course corrections regularly to avoid the temptation of always staying high on popularity charts. As he admitted, “last time, we had a passion to end corruption, we had romanticism, madness. Now after our 49-day Government, we have confidence”.

From rhetoric to governance

Also, the AAP Government has to shift from rhetoric to governance. Street protests by the partymen in power, including Kejriwal, seeking instant redressal to long-festering issues must give way to problem-solving through innovative methods within the boundaries of the Constitution. “Anarchy” as many of Kejriwal’s detractors described his first stint, must have no place in AAP 2.0.

Spelling out his priorities, he said the AAP Government would weed out corruption, fight communal elements, end the VIP culture and strive for full Statehood for Delhi. Striking a note of caution to partymen against arrogance, he said this was the reason for the defeat of the Congress and the BJP, which had received a huge majority in the Lok Sabha polls nine months ago.

Mr. Kejriwal observed that it was a mistake for AAP to fight Lok Sabha elections in Delhi and dismissed speculation that the party was gearing itself for Assembly elections (due in Punjab and Bihar). Referring to his party’s landslide majority (67 out of 70 Assembly seats), he said “Our victory is not because of human factors. It is a miracle, a sign from God”.

Olive branch to BJP Government

He struck a conciliatory note towards the BJP Government by recalling his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  He had told the PM that “we have a majority in Delhi and you have a majority at the centre. Let us work together for Delhi”.

Addressing Delhiites, he urged them to pay taxes regularly and promised to put their money to good use. He also asked them not to refuse paying bribe if any official demanded it. “Take out your mobile phone, record it and send it to us”, he said.

Mr. Kejriwal, who was running fever, dispensed with his trademark muffler as it was a warm and sunny day. Like he did last time, he concluded his speech with Manna Dey’s song in the film Paigham, “Insan ka ho insane se bhaichara. Yahi hai paigam hamara.  BJP and Congress leaders did not attend the swearing-in ceremony.

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