The venue was the same on both occasions he was crowned. But it was a different Arvind Kejriwal in many ways this time, because of what he said and the emotions he betrayed.
He repeated his promises of a corruption-free Delhi, common man’s empowerment but the second-time chief minister sounded mature, mellowed, and struck conciliatory notes.
In 2013, he launched scathing attacks on political rivals, repeatedly saying “sab mile hue hain”. He now looks eager to “take everybody along.”
Despite a bitter election campaign, which saw barbs flying thick and fast, Kejriwal on Saturday called Kiran Bedi his elder sister who has vast administrative experience. He also found a strategist in Ajay Maken, promising to seek their guidance.
“There are good people in other political parties too. We don’t want to indulge in party politics,” he said. He came across as an astute politician, “appreciating” PM Modi’s busy schedule and asking him to focus on the country but leave Delhi to AAP.
Most of the issues remain critical on Delhi’s political landscape but his ways of handling them seemed different — and effective. During his previous innings, he held a dharna and slept on the roadside for two nights to unsuccessfully wrest control over Delhi Police and seek full statehood to Delhi.
This time he is equally committed to these causes but looks to avoid conflict. “I told the PM that God cannot give a better opportunity than this. I am ready and I hope that the prime minister is also ready to help us and work together,” he said in his speech. “Even though the Delhi Police doesn’t come under the Delhi government, we want to join hands with them. We want constructive cooperation from the Centre. We will work make Delhi a top-class city,” he went on to say.
Kejriwal quit when he could not pass the Lokpal Bill but it is clear that he is still committed to the Bill but he has the mandate to be relaxed and do things in “a more solid way”. “Other parties haven’t passed it in 65 years. We would pass it as soon as possible. We would do everything in a solid way.”
On a day when he was supposed to celebrate his party’s historic win, he also chose to reflect what went wrong in the Lok Sabha elections when AAP drew a blank in Delhi. “We were over ambitious. We were taught a lesson,” he said.
In his 2013 speech, Kejriwal had already started looking beyond Delhi. He had said he was confident that India will become ‘sone ki chidiya’ again in the next 5 years. On Saturday, he made it abundantly clear that he is not going anywhere, and will only serve the people of Delhi over the next five years.