Arvind Kejriwal’s time starts now

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2015 03:09 IST

A man dressed up as a peacock, his tail feathers bearing many images of Delhi’s new chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was perhaps the only over-the-top aspect of the swearing-in ceremony at the Ram Lila grounds on February 14.

It was clearly once more with feeling for Mr Kejriwal, who, in his speech, sought to reinforce the image of his government being of the people, for the people and by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Where he fell short was perhaps on any plan on how he will execute his ambitious agenda for free water up to a limit and cheaper electricity, not to mention a huge increase in CCTV cameras.

But what he may have lacked in substance, he more than made up for in sentiment. His apology for having given up the ghost after 49 days last year went well with the huge crowd gathered, a signal that humility does pay rich dividends in an era where the political class has become symbolic with arrogance.

His savvy with people connect was evident in his asking people to take photos of those seeking bribes and to send them to him for action.

In a city where a sophisticated system of bribery and corruption oils the wheels of everyday life, this was just what the crowd wanted to hear.

His promise of a corruption-free Delhi in five years may not materialise but it is clear that he has fired a warning shot on this as well as on the performance of his ministers.

The VIP culture of red beacons will also be done away with for Delhi ministers, again a move aimed at bringing political netas down to the level of those who voted them into power.

The theatrics was provided by the free distribution of AAP cold drinks and a slightly off-key song by Mr Kejriwal on the brotherhood of man.

Surprisingly, he chose his inaugural speech to talk of the recent attacks on churches and communal disharmony and how the people of Delhi would not tolerate this. It appeared that he was seeking to take over the secular space traditionally occupied by the Congress, perhaps with an all-India spread later in mind.

However, he was quick to dismiss as arrogance the notion that AAP would fight elections elsewhere. This was a mature Kejriwal, a far cry from his earlier dharna-at-the-drop-of-a-hat avatar.

His conciliatory remarks about his rivals Kiran Bedi and Ajay Maken were gracious and signalled a willingness to work with others for the greater common good. This is a new chapter for a Delhi, which has been adrift for quite a while. And with his massive mandate and time on his side, Mr Kejriwal has no excuse not to deliver on his promise of a dream Delhi.

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