Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal was sworn in as Delhi’s chief minister for the third consecutive time on 16th February at the Ramlila Maidan.
After taking his oath, Kejriwal said he wanted to work in harmony with the with the BJP-led central government to make Delhi the number one city and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blessings for smooth governance in the capital.
After his stupendous victory in the Assembly polls by bagging 62 of the 70 seats, Kejriwal, whose previous tenure was marred by several run-ins with the Centre, termed himself Delhi’s “son” and the “chief of minister of all” people irrespective of the party they have voted for.
“The two crore people of the national capital are my family,” he said.
The BJP had mounted one of its 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 MP Parvesh Verma from campaigning. Verma in a public meeting had termed Kejriwal a “terrorist”. However Kejriwal sought cooperation even from his rival parties, BJP and Congress saying he has “forgiven” them for the remarks made against him by members of these parties during the poll campaign.
Kejriwal had extended an invitation to Modi to attend his oath-taking ceremony. However, the latter was in constituency Varanasi where he inaugurated several projects and therefore couldn’t attend ceremony
“I had invited the prime minister but he could not come as he may have been busy. We want to seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blessings for smooth governance of Delhi,” Kejriwal said in his nearly 20-minute address.
The AAP had planned to keep the swearing-in ceremony “Delhi-specific” and so did not invite chief ministers of other states or political leaders.
“Your son has taken oath for the third time as Delhi chief minister. This is not my victory but yours,” Kejriwal told the crowd at the Ramlila Maidan, adding there was no stepmotherly treatment for anyone and he has worked for all in the last five years.
“In the last five years, we tried to develop Delhi in a fast mode and in the next five years, we will continue to do the same,” he said.
The AAP national convener began his address with ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ended it by singing ‘Hum Honge Kamyaab’, in which he was joined by the crowd.
Kejriwal spoke about the free facilities that his government had provided in the last five and said it would be a shame if he charged people for basic amenities like health and education.
“Some people say Kejriwal is giving everything for free. Nature has ensured that 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,” he said.
While lauding the people of Delhi for “changing” the politics of the country, Kejriwal said the name of India will resonate around the world because of this to this new-wave politics.
“Delhi’s ‘nirmatas’ (makers) are sitting here… Lakhs of ‘nirmatas’ run Delhi… Politicians come and go but Delhi’s ‘nirmata’ run Delhi,” he said.
The party had invited the teachers of Delhi schools to the ceremony, saying the educators have been the architect of the Delhi’s transformation in the past five years. It also invited 50 representatives from different sectors for their contribution to governance. These included angandwadi and doorstep delivery workers, representatives of education, healthcare and infrastructure sectors, safai karamchari, public transport staff, bus marshals and farmers.
Kejriwal is the first and the only Delhi chief minister who has opted for Ramlila Maidan as the venue for his oath ceremonies. All his predecessors always took oath at the Raj Niwas.
President Ram Nath Kovind had on 15th February appointed him as the new chief minister of Delhi after AAP registered a landslide victory in the national capital.
The AAP had earlier said all ministers would continue to hold the same portfolios. Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Kailash Gahlot, Rajendra Pal Gautam and Imran Hussain were sworn in as ministers.
The Delhi Police had made strict security arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony. Around 3,000 security personnel from Delhi Police and para military were placed in the Ramlila Maidan area, along with CCTV surveillance of all the routes leading to the venue.
In 2013, AAP created history by winning 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly election. The party made a stunning electoral debut by defeating Delhi’s three-time Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. However, Kejriwal resigned after 49 days, heading the shortest tenure of a Delhi government after political opponents blocked an anti-corruption bill in the state assembly. Again, in 2015, AAP got a landslide victory, winning 67 of Delhi’s 70 seats.
Long before Kejriwal entered politics, he had formed an NGO Parivartan to address citizens’ grievances related to Public Distribution System (PDS), public works, social welfare schemes, income tax and electricity. In 2006, he resigned from the I-T department and donated his Magsaysay award money as a corpus fund to set-up the Public Cause Research Foundation.
A social activist, political reformer and a former Joint Commissioner in the I-T department, Kejriwal is known for his commitment towards the Right to Information (RTI) and struggle for the Jan Lokpal. He has authored ‘Swaraj’, a book on his model of local self-governance and decentralisation of administration.