The brooms were out in force at Ramlila Maidan on Wednesday in preparation for Arvind Kejriwal’s second coming as Delhi chief minister.
The oath ceremony on Saturday — a day to the year the Aam Aadmi Party boss quit after a volatile, 49-day first stint — is expected to be a grand affair with invitations going out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all his ministers and the BJP’s seven Delhi MPs, President Pranab Mukherjee, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and all ex-lieutenant governors of the city among others.
Kejriwal and party colleague Manish Sisodia are set to meet the PM at his office on Thursday and formally extend the invitation. It was unclear if Modi — who had targeted Kejriwal heavily through the campaign — would attend as he is scheduled to be in Maharashtra that day for a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has reportedly declined Kejriwal’s personal invitation but wished him well.
The general administration department (GAD) is responsible for the entire event and is in the process of printing the invitations.
The last time Ramlila Maidan was spruced up was just a month ago, for Modi’s campaign rally. Principal secretary (GAD) Anindo Majumdar inspected the ground at 11am Wednesday to start off preparations, asking all the agencies concerned to get it done by Thursday night.
Work started straight away with municipal workers levelling the ground. Around 50-60 sanitation workers have been tasked with sweeping and cleaning and water is being sprinkled to settle the dust.
The north corporation has handed over the ground to the Public Works Department, which is in charge of décor and seating. However, sources said the corporation has asked the Delhi government to pay Rs. 8,000 in rent.
“This is the first time we have got such a letter from the corporation. They didn’t send one last time. This is a government event and we will be writing to them informing them that every agency has to bear the cost incurred as was discussed in a meeting on Tuesday,” said a senior Delhi government official.
Expecting a huge turnout, the government has decided not to put up sofas and instead place approximately 40,000 chairs while leaving standing space for 20,000. There will be 12 enclosures for the public and one for VIPs. Ten giant LED screens will beam the ceremony to the public while 50 CCTVs will keep watch.
The ground — which served as the battlefield where Kejriwal partnered Hazare in his 2011 corruption crusade — had seen a crowd of over a lakh when the AAP chief first took oath as CM on December 29, 2013.
“Since the President, Prime Minister and other VIPs have been invited, a three-layer security apparatus will be put in place,” said a senior government official.
Around 3,000 security and traffic police personnel will be deployed on all arterials roads leading to the central Delhi venue and bomb squad vans, ambulances and fire tenders will be placed.
(Inputs from Karn Pratap and Shashank Shekhar)