New Delhi: Setting his government’s roadmap for the next five years after being sworn in as Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “blessings” for fast paced development of the national capital and asserted that people may have voted for different parties, but he is the “chief of minister of all”.
Kejriwal along with his cabinet colleagues Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Imran Hussain, Rajendra Pal Gautam and Kailash Gahlot was 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, 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.
“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 was in his constituency Varanasi, where he inaugurated several projects.
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 and is being discussed all over the country,” he said, adding that initiatives like mohalla clinics are being replicated across the country and abroad. “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 chief 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 thousand 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 especially 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.
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.
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.
Kejriwal, in his address after taking oath as Chief Minister, also 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”.