ne estimate put the crowd at over a lakh, with thousands milling on the streets.
New Delhi: Soon after he was sworn in as chief minister of Delhi for the third time, Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday sought the blessings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his desire to work together with the Centre for the development of the national capital. Mr Kejriwal said as the election was over, politics was also over and he has “forgiven” his opponents for the remarks made during the campaign.
At 12 noon, the moment Mr Kejriwal climbed onto the dais to take the oath, a cheer rang through the crowd, that spilled outside the iconic Ramlila Maidan. One estimate put the crowd at over a lakh, with thousands milling on the streets.
The sprawling Ramlila Maidan had also served as the battleground for the 51-year-old bureaucrat-politician during the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement. It is the same venue where socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan had addressed a massive gathering during the “Total Revolution” movement in the 1970s. Mr Kejriwal is the first and only Delhi CM who opted for Ramlila Maidan as the venue for his oath ceremonies. All his predecessors had taken the oath at Raj Niwas.
After being sworn in along with six Cabinet colleagues — Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Gopal Rai, Rajendra Gautam, Imran Hussain and Kailash Gahlot — Mr Kejriwal began his address with “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Vande Mataram”, and ended it by singing “Hum Honge Kamyaab” (We shall overcome), in which he was joined by thousands, waving the tricolour, banners and wielding jhadus (brooms).
Striking a conciliatory note after his stupendous victory in the Assembly polls by bagging 62 out of 70 seats, Mr Kejriwal, whose earlier tenure was marred by many run-ins with the Centre, termed himself Delhi’s “son” and the “chief of minister of all” people irrespective of the party they voted for. He said: “I had sent an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this event. He could not come, maybe he is busy at some other event. But through this platform, I want to take his blessings and say that I want to work with the Central government to develop Delhi and take it forward.”
The BJP had mounted its one of the most aggressive campaigns in the Delhi Assembly polls. Several BJP leaders had made controversial and even incendiary remarks against their rivals, prompting the Election Commission to take serious action like barring Union minister Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Verma from campaigning. Mr Verma in a public meeting had termed Mr Kejriwal a “terrorist”.
The chief minister sought cooperation from his political opponents, saying he had “forgiven” them for remarks against him during the high-octane campaign. He said: “Some people had voted for AAP, BJP and Congress during the polls. But from now on, I am everyone’s chief minister — irrespective of their political affiliation.”
Mr Kejriwal said Delhiites had given birth to a new kind of politics in the country — which involves schools, hospitals, electricity, water, good roads and women’s security. He said: “In the last five years, I have worked for everyone. I have never worked with bias. Today, the entire two-crore population is a part of my family. Never hesitate to approach me, I will work for everyone. We still have a lot to achieve here. I want to work with everyone together.”
Mr Kejriwal also talked of the freebies his government had provided in the last five years and said it would be a shame if he charged people for basic amenities. He said: “Some people say Kejriwal is giving everything for free. Nature has ensured every valuable thing in the world is free, be it mother’s love, father’s blessings or Shravan Kumar’s dedication. So, Kejriwal loves his people and hence this love is free... I should be ashamed if I charge those who take treatment in government hospitals or study in government schools.”
While lauding the people of Delhi for changing the politics of the country, Mr Kejriwal said the name of India will resonate in the world due to this new wave of politics. “Delhi’s ‘nirmatas’ (makers) are sitting here... Lakhs of ‘nirmatas’ run Delhi... Politicians come and go but Delhi’s ‘nirmatas’ run the city.” About 50 people from different walks of life who are “Delhi ke Nirmata” and have contributed to the city’s development in the last five years shared the stage with Mr Kejriwal during his swearing-in ceremony as special guests.
Mr Kejriwal’s parents, wife and two children were at the swearing-in. The others present at the ceremony included AAP leaders from Punjab, including many MLAs and MP Bhagwant Mann, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and BJP’s recently re-elected legislators Vijender Gupta and O.P. Sharma.